Sometimes it just needs to be said: James is awesome. Together the two of us have been on this crazy journey through the world of type 1 diabetes. We have struggles, we have triumphs, and we have everyday frustrations. Sometimes those daily struggles are what I focus on. Sometimes I get so in-the-thick-of-things that I forget just how incredible this 11-year-old boy really is!
Recently, I’ve been able to see just how truly great he is—how unique, how original … how he struggles with so many things, which have been listed many times on this blog, but he has many gifts and talents that help him too! I feel strongly that it’s time to focus on those POSITIVE things. Not just here in my blog; I need to let HIM know what I’ve observed as well.
Funny enough, the incident that prompted this line of thought has nothing to do with diabetes. Picture the scenario: I have a car full of kids. I have one bag with library books, another with picnic snacks, and yet another with ALL the supplies our little family needs for an outing , including, of course, things like glucometers and juice boxes. I give my 11-year-old one simple job: Take this trash bag out to the street since it’s trash day. He grabs it and runs off with his little bare feet.
Not 20 seconds later I hear, “Mom! Mom! Help, I can’t stop the bleeding!” What?? Of course, that got my attention. I see a frantic James hobbling and holding his toe with blood dribbling everywhere. It turns out he tripped and hit his toe just right on the concrete, causing an injury that needed stitches. But he didn’t cry or shed one tear. Even that initial alarm wasn’t because he was in pain or hurting or complaining; he was thinking about the mess he was making.
That’s my boy. My brave, undramatic boy with a very legitimate injury could hardly be bothered with the pain. This incident reminded me, but I honestly see this every single day. He never flinches at finger-sticks or insulin set changes. He rarely complains even when his blood sugar is far from ideal. He is a rock star when it comes to dealing with pain and discomfort. And he needs to know that I see and appreciate him for his fortitude and his positive attitude!
Another thing James is truly awesome at is math. This is funny, because he can be pretty dreamy, and I would say from the outside he fits the mold for the creative type. If asked, he will tell you that he wants to be an artist when he grows up and that he doesn’t care for math. But he’s got the smarts! Diabetes gives us ample opportunity to work on “word problems” in the classic sense. Things like, “James gives himself enough insulin to cover a sandwich with 45 grams of carbs, but he only eats 9/10 of it. However, he also eats a cookie with 17 grams of carbs. How many extra grams of carbohydrates does he need to bolus for?” You guys get it. How many times a day does your mind wrap around problems just like that? The cool thing is, James’ brain can do that kind of math. I’m so impressed!
Finally, my James is an absolutely awesome ambassador for diabetes. His specialty is talking with other little kids—particularly young kids who are the ages of his siblings. They are almost always curious. James effortlessly explains what he is doing (while checking blood sugar or using his pump), and his combination of matter-of-fact honesty with laid-back casualness is just perfect. I need to copy him, pretty much, and my conversations would always go right.
James, YOU ARE AWESOME. You are great just how you were made. Diabetes doesn’t define you. But it does help prove to me EVERY DAY how incredibly awesome you are. I love every bit of you!
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.