What 5-year-old would ever willingly ask to get her finger poked for a blood sugar test? Kaitlyn’s little sister, Lily, that’s who! Apparently she feels like she’s missing out on the fun of her sister’s type 1 diabetes, and she keeps asking when she is going to get diabetes too. The other day, she found one of Kaitlyn’s spare glucose meters in the car and asked if she could “do it.” Completely surprised, I told her, “sure, why not?” and I poked her finger.
This was not the first time I had ever poked her finger for a blood sugar check. All four of our non-type-1 kids have been victim to my curiosity and worry now and then, but this was definitely the first time anyone had asked for it! I read Lily’s perfectly in-range number, and she said that it didn’t even hurt! She was so proud and asked, “Do I get diabetes now?” I had to chuckle and explain to her, “No. Hopefully you’ll never get diabetes.”
The very next day, we were in the car again, waiting to pick up the kids from school, and she found the testing kit again. When Kaitlyn got into the car, Lily asked, “Can I do it again?” This time Kaitlyn got to do the honors of checking her little sister’s blood sugar. Again, it was a perfectly in-range number. “Do I have diabetes now?” she exclaimed. “When will I have diabetes?” Kaitlyn and I just laughed! Why in the world would anyone want this, I thought. Did she notice the extra attention Kaitlyn gets? Was she jealous of the juice and candy we pass out only for lows?
Regardless, somehow we — especially Kaitlyn, I presume — have made it look fun to have diabetes. And although that is far from the truth, I had to stop and give us a mental pat on the back for dealing with diabetes as a normal and manageable part of life.
The truth is, none of us would have ever chosen diabetes. When we became parents, we had all the optimism in the world that our children would be perfectly healthy and not have to deal with health challenges or disabilities. I only have to look around at our children’s hospital to see the challenges that so many other families have to deal with — some of which are much more debilitating than diabetes. But almost undoubtedly, they have smiles on their faces and are chugging along just like the rest of us. It does us no good to complain and despair about these challenges. For reasons that I don’t completely understand, this challenge was given to us, and our job is to make the best of it, learn from it, and help others.
Although I have some work to do in educating Lily a little bit more about diabetes, I’m hopeful that we can always keep this positive outlook. I’ll explain to her that hopefully she will never have diabetes, but that if she ever did, she would be just fine — just like Kaitlyn.
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.