We see Benny’s doctor this week for our regular diabetes check up. We go every three months. They check his A1c levels and adjust his insulin doses.
Benny’s been running high for the past week. He’s fighting a cold and anytime he gets sick, his blood sugar levels go crazy. Of course, he’s also grown quite a bit since the last time we adjusted his insulin. My guess is he’s an inch taller and three pounds heavier since October. The kid is an eating machine!
So we’ve been pretty frustrated with Benny’s numbers recently, but I got a great jolt back into perspective this week from a guest on my weekend health show. Pat Queen is 60 years old and was diagnosed with Type I when she was 12 years old. She came on the show, along with her doctor Adam Spitz, to talk about Ride for the Cure.
The Ride is a series of bike rides to raise money for Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Dr. Spitz is the Medical Director of Diabetes Education at Presbyterian Hospital and heads up the local ride group. We’re on the JDRF Board together as well.
Pat was great. She’s not an athlete – she thought she’d only make it to the first rest stop on the ride this past fall. But she shocked herself by going 32 miles, up and down the hills near Asheville, NC. I hope you can hear the show (you can always check out the pod cast) to hear her tell the story of her inspiration for those last 15 miles.
For me, the best part of the interview was when I asked Pat about what she remembers of her diagnosis as a twelve year old in the 1950s. I’m always curious to hear the child’s perspective. After all, Benny is pretty articulate for a three year old, but he can’t yet really tell me what it’s like to have diabetes. Pat said it didn’t seem like a big deal to her. She does remember her mother standing outside her bedroom door, crying, and not really understanding why. "After all," she told me, "I just ate a veggie, a protein and a starch at each meal and got a shot." No big deal, she said.
I’ve heard a lot of Type I adults say that diabetes is harder on the parents than on the children, but I’m not sure I really buy that entirely. After all, it’s not my body that’s at risk for complications. It’s not my fingers that are pricked 8 times a day, not my blood that is measured. Not my pump attached to my backside 24/7. It is my job to make sure Benny’s as healthy as possible, while not letting diabetes take over his life (and ours!).
Pat urged me to continue to look at it that way. She is adamant that parents like me not make diabetes the first and only thing we think about when we look at our kids. To let them be kids, to fall down and get up back up on their own. I try, I really do.
It helps me to remember that Benny won’t ever know any other way of doing things. Diagnosed at 23 months old, food will always be balanced by insulin, his meter will go everywhere with him, he’ll check his blood sugar several times a day as a matter of course. Eventually, I’ll just be along for the ride; always trying to balance letting go and hanging on for dear life! Whoever said getting his numbers in balance was the hard part?