Kim M.

Is a Child With Type 1 Diabetes “Healthy”?

Here we go again — another health history form to fill out at the doctor’s office. It’s old habit by now: I check the “No” box on all the items (without really glancing at them) until I get to the “Diabetes” box. I check that box and move to the bottom of the form.

One last question: “Is your child in good health?”

I check “Yes”!

This might seem like an anomaly to some. Doesn’t having diabetes mean that my daughter Kaitlyn is unhealthy? After all, what’s a fairly common stereotype of diabetes? Diabetes means overweight, unhealthy eating habits, too little exercise, and on and on it goes. Given our close relationship with diabetes, we know that those stereotypes are untrue. Unfortunately, because type 1 and type 2 diabetes share a name, the stereotypes will continue to follow our kids with type 1. And it’s not fair to those with either condition.

I figure the least I can do is reframe the issue, both for Kaitlyn and for the people with whom we associate.

So how about this: Does she have a major medical issue? Yes. Is she healthy? Yes!! If anything, she’s probably healthier than most because of the constant reminders to keep eating wisely and to make smart exercise habits. Let me give you an example: How many of us have ever sat down in front of the TV with a bag of chips, and before we know it the bag is almost gone? Guess what? This doesn’t happen with Kaitlyn. Years of counting carbs and dosing for every morsel she eats have programmed her to be aware of everything she puts into her mouth. That’s a pretty valuable arrow in her quiver.

I looked up “healthy” in the dictionary once, and the first definition was “free from disease or pain.” From this definition alone, it would be hard to describe Kaitlyn as healthy. She has a very serious disease, and the management of that disease definitely can cause some pain. However, I liked the second definition much better. It states that “healthy” means “enjoying health and vigor of body, mind, or spirit.” By this definition, Kaitlyn definitely fits in the category of being healthy! Diabetes has not gotten in the way of her experiencing all the things any child should. And she absolutely does it with vigor of body, mind, and spirit!

My hope is that someday, when Kaitlyn starts filling out these forms on her own, she will without hesitation check the box that says “Yes, I am healthy.” And more importantly, I hope she believes it.

 

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.

 

Related topics:
Printable Checklist for Your Child’s Next Doctor Visit
What Your Endocrinologist Is Really Thinking About Your Child’s A1C
How Can a Kid’s Doctor Appointment Take All Day? This Is How…

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