A Diabetic Mommy Responds to Her Daughters

Posted on June 7, 2011


Two days ago, I asked my daugthers what questions they had about diabetes?  This was a spontaneous question that I asked them independently. 

After hearing their questions, I decided to take a few days to think about my responses.  Here they are:

Zoe – age 7:

1.  How do you get diabetes?  There are two types of diabetes – type 1 and type 2.  Mommy has type 1.  With type 1 diabetes, the body stops producing insulin.  The body must have insulin to break down food like bread, pasta, and fruit.  All the food mommy and you love.  The food has to be broken down to give us energy. 

My body does not produce insulin so food cannot be broken down.  I have to give insulin, which breaks down the food.  This is why I wear the insulin pump.  The pump puts insulin in my body which breaks down food and gives me energy.   The insulin, also, keeps my bloodsugars normal.  If they are not normal, then I feel sick. 

Your body has insulin.  So when you eat fruit, pasta, bread, etc. your insulin automatically breaks it down and gives you energy.  You don’t even have to think about it.  Your bloodsugars remain normal, and you feel good.

Type 2 diabetes is usually when people’s body’s can still make a little insulin, but not enough to break down the food for energy.  So they need the help of medications to break down the food and get energy.   Usually, they do not need insulin and take pills, eat a healthy diet, and exercise.

No one knows whether or not you will get diabetes.  It just happens.  You just don’t know.  That is why you cannot worry about it.  Be as healthy as you can and treat your body well no matter what.  Love your body.

2.  Why is it a disease?  A sickness? Disease is when the body does not work like it should.  It is usually a specific part of the body.  Diabetes is a disease because the pancreas does not work right.  The pancreas (point to area on body) makes insulin.  And remember we said you need insulin to break down food, get energy, and have normal bloodsugars.  So, for me, my disease is diabetes and what does not work is my pancreas because it no longer makes insulin.   You do not have the disease diabetes because your body make insulin (point out where pancreas is again – and tickle them).

That is why it is so important to treat diseases.  I treat diabetes by taking insulin, testing my blood, eating healthy, and exercising.  This keeps me healthy even with a disease.   Some people get diseases, some do not.  We just never know.

3.  Why does God give people diseases like diabetes?  It seems unfair.  Whew.  Good question.  Why does God give people diseases?  Well, I like to think that God gave me diabetes as a gift.  He knew I could handle diabetes. 

I, also, believe that we are all special in different ways.  You might have blue eyes,  your friends may have brown eyes.  I may have diabetes, a friend may have a bad back.  We are different.  And that is sooo cool. 

I don’t see diabetes as unfair.  I see it as something God wanted me to have.  He gave it to me for a reason.  Maybe he wanted me to help other people with diabetes.  Maybe he wanted me to pay close attention to my diet and exercise routine.  Whatever the reason, it is for me.  I have to accept the gift and take really good care of it.  Just like you take good care of special gifts given to you like your Critter House or your beautiful singing voices.   I break out in song here. 

4.  How come you can’t give diabetes to other people?  Diabetes is not contagious.  That means, you cannot give it to other people.  Colds, strep throat, the flu, etc. are contagious.  Other people can catch those from you if you cough on them, share a glass of milk, etc.  But diabetes is not something you “catch” from others.  So I cannot give it to anyone else.   Only God can give diabetes to people.  And remember when he does, it is a special gift.

5.  Will I get diabetes?  I worry about that because you have diabetes.  You can die from diabetes.  It is a bad disease.  My heart tells me that.  I don’t want it. 

No one knows whether or not you will get diabetes.  It just happens.  That is why you cannot worry about it.   Everyone should take care of themselves whether they have diabetes or not.  Eat well, exercise, rest, and relax.  Be kind to your body. 

If someday you happen to get diabetes, it will be okay.  Remember, it is a gift from God.  I would be here to help you.  Mommy  has it, and I live a great life.  Right?  We do all kinds of fun things together even though I have diabetes.  We do everything all your other friends do with their mommy’s. 

Diabetes is a disease, but it is not bad if you take care of yourself.  That is the key – being nice to your diabetes.  Testing your blood, eating healthy, exercising, and resting are all good things to do for diabetes.  Things are only “bad” if you think they are “bad”.  I don’t like to think of diabetes as “bad”.  It might be scary some days when I have a low blood sugar, but I can fix that by eating a snack. 

We all have things in our lives that can be scary – like sleeping in the dark, and going to a new afterschool activity.  But that is part of life.  Once we do the “scary” thing, it is no longer scary.  It is okay.  That is how diabetes is too. 

Phoebe – age 6:

1.  How does insulin get into your body with the pump?  The insulin pump works like magic.  I show the girls the different parts of the pump as I walk them through the process. 

We start with a bottle of insulin and the reservoir.  I pull back this plunger which makes insulin go into the reservoir.  Then I snap it off the insulin bottle. 

Next, we attach the quick set to the reservoir.  This all connect together so the insulin can go from the pump, through this tube, into my belly. 

I then show them how I put the reservoir into the pump and then insert the quick set into my belly.  Now see how all this is connected.  The insulin is stored in the pump, and it gives me a little tiny bit of insulin all day and all night.  When I eat, I give extra insulin .  I tell the little machine inside the pump how much insulin to give me to break down the food so my bloodsugars do not get high.  I show them the numbers on the pump.

The insulin travels from the pump, through this tube, into my skin.  It then enters my body and goes to work breaking down food.  Pretty cool, huh? The pump delivers insulin to me pretty much how your body delivers insulin.  A little bit all day long and then more when you eat. 

2.  What does it feel like to be diabetic?  Another really good question.  What does it feel like?  Well, most of the time, I feel like the two of you.  I feel good.  I do a little dance here. 

But, if my bloodsugar gets low or high, I don’t feel so good.  I get tired and cranky.  You know.  You have seen me when I am low or high.  RRrrrrr…Like a grouchy monster…

Yet, after I fix the high with insulin or fix the low with food, I feel okay.  The tired and cranky feeling does not last forever.  Unless, I am tired from playing too hard with you and Zoe.  Even you get tired from playing too hard sometimes.  Right? 

I feel great right now though!  Do you?  They nod their heads yes.   

3.  I don’t know if diabetes is bad or not.  Is it?  Guess I would know if you did not feel well?  Diabetes is not bad.  Remember how we said it was a gift.  Just something different that mommy has.  I don’t think of it as bad, but special. 

And you would know if I did not feel well.  I would not have the energy to play with you guys and take you places.  You know when you are sick and just want to sleep in your bed or on the couch.  Veg in front of the tv.  If  I did not feel well, that is what I would be doing.  Vegging. 

4.  Would like to know what is going on inside your body?  How do you feel?  I go by how I feel.  If I feel good, then I assume everything is fine inside of my body.  If I feel yucky, then I assume something is wrong. 

With my diabetes, I can, also, check my bloodsugar to see how my body is doing inside.  A normal bloodsugar reading let’s me know that I am taking the right amount of insulin.  A low or high reading means I need to change the amount of insulin to match how much I am eating or exercising. 

You really don’t know what is going on inside of your body either.  We have to trust that everything is working smoothly.  And if we get sick or don’t feel well, we know that something inside needs to be fixed or needs rest.  Diabetes is the same way.

The most important thing is taking care of your body and listening to it.  Being nice to it.  Helping  your body feel good so we all can play. 

5.  Is it scary to you mommy?  Is it really mommy? I don’t want you to be scared.  Thank  you for caring about mommy.  I love that.  I give them each a hug and kiss. 

You know, I am not really scared of diabetes.  I know what I have to do to take care of myself.  I test, eat healthy, exercise, and rest.  I try really, really hard to take care of my diabetes.  And that is all we can do – try. 

Diabetes can have scary moments like when my bloodsugar gets high, but life has scary moments.  Remember when you were scared at the first swim meet?  Or scared the first day of Irish Dance class?  Being scared is part of life.  And that is okay.  It does not make it bad.  It just makes us be courageous and brave. 

Diabetes make me and you guys special and brave.  I Love you!