Sunday, September 19, 2010

What Am I?

What's it like to grow up with diabetes? I have no idea, and will never know.

For Grace, it's part of who she is, and she'll never know anything different. She won't know what it's like to grow up WITHOUT diabetes.

But how, exactly, will it impact the person she'll become? If she grows up to be good at math, will I attribute that to the fact that I'm good at math, or the fact that she's immersed in numbers every day, from carb counting to insulin units to basal rates and insulin sensitivity factors.

If, when she's an adult, she wants to become a nurse or doctor, will it be because of her grandmother's influence, or will I think of all the time she's spent at hospitals and doctor's offices.

I don't know. No one knows what events will shape their children and mold them into adults. But how can diabetes NOT play a factor?

Almost every time I check Grace's blood sugar, she asks me what her number is. Why? Is she making mental notes of how she feels at certain numbers? Or is she judging herself by how "good" or "bad" her number is? (For the record, we don't refer to her numbers as good or bad. If she's not in range we try to figure out why, and treat her. But I will admit to not always doing a great job at masking my frustration when I can't seem to get her back in range.) Her exact words are, "What am I?" Does she define herself by what her number is? I hope not.

I need to have a talk with her to make sure she understands that she is not her numbers. In range doesn't mean you're a better person. And my frustration at high or low numbers isn't frustration with her, it's actually with myself. I get mad at myself for not anticipating whatever event brought us to that out of range number. Diabetes will always play a part in Grace's life, but I want it to be just that... a part, not the whole. It may influence the person she becomes, but I don't want it to determine the paths she takes.

Does her nine year old brain understand this yet? I think I need to make sure.

Just like Kerri, I don't want diabetes to define Grace, but maybe someday it will help to explain who she has become.


  1. Well written. This is one of my big concerns for me as a parent in raising Joe with "d" in the mix. I hope he never bases his self worth on his numbers. That bothers me.

  2. Well said Pam. I hear ya hon. No one ever tells you al this as your become a D-Mom, but it's one of the hardest things to pull off. Our kids are not their numbers - not their BGLs or their A1Cs.

  3. I was just thinking tonight about Ellie and the way she introduces herself when she gets on a playground or goes to an event. She always says her name and that she has Type 1 diabetes. She says it with a 4 year olds way. Other kids usually ask about her pod and dexcom, she explains it very well and then goes on to play. I don't ever want her to feel like she has to hide it, but I do wonder how she will handle herself when someone doesn't react kindly to her annoucement someday. It's sure to happen and I worry she will feel ashamed or tricked by us for letting her believe that everyone is so accepting of her condition. Then I had to remember that all kids go through the "I'm different" thing with other kids and they all learn to deal with it. The numbers do matter in diabetes, but I bet she's at an age where she is starting to actually figure it out, or trying to figure it out. Her independence is right around the corner maybe it's a good thing that she's always asking...she may be learning!