Just like in the movie, today we’re doing a swap. If you could switch chronic diseases, which one would you choose to deal with instead of diabetes? And while we’re considering other chronic conditions, do you think your participation in the DOC has affected how you treat friends and acquaintances with other medical conditions?
If diabetes has taught me anything, it’s that everybody has something. We’re all dealing with a health issue ourselves or within our families and it can be difficult for other people to really understand what our “something” is like.
I can’t even think about the disease “swap” in this blog post prompt. Let’s not start ranking who’s got it the worst. We know a terminal illness in a child, in anyone, is an almost incomprehensible tragedy. But hearing, “At least it’s not (fill in the blank),” doesn’t make anyone feel any better. Of course I’m grateful that Benny has diabetes and not something worse. But I’m not grateful he “only” has diabetes. I don’t want him, or any child, to “only” have any chronic condition.
I will say that dealing with diabetes has made it easier to explain other people’s issues. That lady with an oxygen tank? Well, you know how your pancreas doesn’t work so well? Neither do her lungs. Man in a wheelchair? He needs extra help just like you do. Even something simpler, like my seasonal allergies or my daughter needing glasses, help make us more aware.
I’ve learned to listen more and to ask how parents are doing, not just the child. I’m really sensitive to childcare issues and I hope I’ve helped out when I can. I’ve learned to ask for help, to teach my friends to care for my kids and to learn and be sensitive to their children’s needs. I’m not perfect, but that’s sort of the point.
Finally, while I love the Diabetes Online Community (DOC), I’ve also learned that there’s no substitute for real life interaction and support. The best is when the two worlds come together – I’m really looking forward to meeting so many who’ve participated in Diabetes Blog Week this summer. I’ll be at Children with Diabetes Friends for Life Conference for the first time this year. Hope to see you then!