Kaitlyn learned early on that life is not fair. In fact, she was 3 years old when she learned just how unfair, and it started with a type 1 diabetes diagnosis. As her parents, we got a taste of the unfairness when we learned that 24-hour management of her blood sugar numbers would be required to keep her alive. Then came more pokes and shots than we could even imagine. And then we got a medical bill that would be the first of thousands and thousands of dollars we would pay just to take care of her.
Yeah — not fair. But complaining about it didn’t solve any problems, and believe me, having a good attitude and looking for the positive has made all the difference. For example, did you know there are some perks to living with diabetes?
One of these perks is being able to bring your own food, snacks, and low-blood-sugar treats just about anywhere. Tired of paying exorbitant prices for amusement park food or theater snacks (especially when they have a no-outside-food policy)? Bring a friend with type 1 diabetes! We’ve got it covered.
How about the perks at school? Kaitlyn has full access to the health office including a refrigerator, microwave, and anything else she might need. Food from her lunch that should be cold is cold, and food that should be hot is hot! She loves it. She also doesn’t have to follow the “no backpacks allowed in class” rule, because she carries all her T1D supplies with her.
At home, she gets complete access to the best candy. I’m always telling my other kids to stay out of a certain treat in the cupboard, because it’s just for Kaitlyn when she’s low.
The most recent perk we’ve found is being able to participate in clinical trials. A couple of months ago, Kaitlyn participated in a two-week study where she helped to test out some new blood sugar sensors. She wore two sensors, one on each arm, and had to test her blood sugar several times a day and use special scanners to scan the sensors on each arm. After the two-week period, they had a day where all the kids came into the clinic to do a six-hour session where they were hooked up to get continuous blood sugar readings.
We teased her that she was selling her body to science! But she actually loved the experience. The staff treated her and the other kids like celebrities. They were so kind and good with the kids, made them feel important, and even cooked food to order throughout the whole day. And when she was done, she got a big check in the mail. It was more than she had ever gotten from all her birthday checks combined. She was stoked! For an 11-year-old, it was just about the best way she could think of to earn some easy money, and she can’t wait to do it again.
Now that’s a perk!
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.