Most of the time, you hear all about what I do to take care of Kaitlyn, but in reality, it’s a team effort. My wonderful husband Evan does so much for all of us, including helping Kaitlyn manage her type 1 diabetes. I thought it would be a fun idea to interview him and give you a glimpse of our life through the eyes of Kaitlyn’s daddy.
How did you feel when you first found out about Kaitlyn’s diagnosis?
At first, I just felt shock and disbelief. I knew everything would eventually be okay, but I didn’t know what “okay” looked like. It seemed as though time slowed down and we were never going to get into the swing of normal again. It was a surreal experience, chock-full of anxiety and stress.
After diagnosis, what was the hardest lesson to learn?
The hardest thing for me to learn up front was that I wasn’t deliberately hurting my little girl when I needed to check her blood sugar or give her a shot. I was jumpy and unsure, because I felt like I was hurting her. I would be timid with the needle and take two or three tries before I got a shot done right. It was a traumatic experience at first, but after a while it got easier, and as Kaitlyn became accustomed to the poking and prodding, I was able to teach myself to calm down and help manage her diabetes with confidence.
How has Kaitlyn’s diabetes helped her become who she is today?
I’m sure you’ve blogged about this topic a lot, but Kaitlyn is BRAVE. She is seriously the bravest little girl I know. Living with type 1 has taught her that life can swing high and low and can even be painful at times, but that at the end of the day, it is a wonderful life — a life worth living to the fullest. She’s so young, but she gets that concept.
Do you have any advice for parents of kids newly diagnosed with type 1?
Enthusiasm is contagious, and if you approach a difficult situation with a positive attitude, your child will oftentimes mirror your behavior. As parents, we have the opportunity to help our kids approach a very intimidating set of circumstances with calm and confidence. I also believe that our kids have the potential to perform at a level beyond what we typically expect of them. So many times, Kaitlyn has risen to the challenge when we have asked her to, in ways like learning how to check her blood sugar and learning the math skills to begin counting carbs on food packaging. Our kids are usually smarter and more capable than we suppose, and they need opportunities to demonstrate that.
What is your favorite thing about helping Kaitlyn learn how to manage her diabetes?
Kaitlyn has such a vivid imagination, so I like to play “diabetes make-believe” with her and her stuffed animal friends. I’ll pretend like I’m having a conversation with her stuffed giraffe, and the giraffe will insist that he doesn’t feel “low,” but then I’ll make him run into things and talk funny. Kaitlyn laughs really hard, and then suggests to the giraffe that he check his blood sugar and eat some carbs.
Any parting words?
Calm down and take a deep breath. Be grateful. It could be so much worse, and thank goodness it isn’t.
Disclaimer: The experiences and suggestions recounted in these articles are not intended as medical advice, and they are not necessarily the “typical” experiences of families with a child who has type 1 diabetes. These situations are unique to the families depicted. Families should check with their healthcare professionals regarding the treatment of type 1 diabetes and the frequency of blood glucose monitoring. Jen and Kim are real moms of kids with type 1 diabetes and have been compensated for their contributions to this site.