It’s Tuesday afternoon at 12:30pm…My cell phone rings. Caller ID shows it is my daughters’ school. First thought is “who is sick”?
The school nurse reports that my 8 year old has a slight fever, belly ache, and shaky legs (how she describes feeling weak). Time to pick her up.
We spend several hours drinking ginger ale, eating Club crackers and watching movies. I make her an appointment with the pediatrician to rule out strep throat (she had strep 2 weeks ago – same symptoms).
Later that afternoon, we go to the doctors. A throat swab and blood work show that she does not have strep or any other bacterial infections. It is a viral bug.
But, wait. They want to do one more test. They want to test her blood sugar just in case she has diabetes. Diabetes?
I did not suspect diabetes since she was not presenting with any of the usual symptoms (drinking lots, peeing lots, loss of weight, etc.). But I did not oppose a simple blood test. I was curious and felt kind of stupid. Maybe I should have checked her blood sugar at home? I had tested her before when she seemed unusually thirsty. The results always came back within normal range.
And my gut did not expect her blood sugar level to be elevated this time either. But what if she did have diabetes? What if?
Well, apparently, my 8 year old started wondering the same thing. What if I have diabetes? The “what if” game had kicked in.
We left the doctor’s office with all her tests results either negative or within normal range – including her blood sugar level. But my daughter was still convinced she might be a diabetic.
I explained to her that the symptoms of diabetes (drinking lots, peeing lots, and losing weight) were different than her symptoms of a slight fever, belly ache and tired legs. And that was that. End of story.
Until we went upstairs at the kids’ bedtime, and I noticed a sign she had written and hung on the bathroom mirror:
“Test blood sugar this morning to see if I am a diebeitic (I need to teach her how to spell diabetic) because I want it but it’s not a bad thing. It’s just a disease (surprised she was using the word disease).”
Wow. I was surprised by the note. Why in the world would she want diabetes? I had to talk with her…
We were going to stay up a bit late to discuss this newest development. Why on Earth would she want diabetes? Did I make diabetes look like that much fun? Please…
I needed answers…Here is how the conversation went:
Michele: So why do you want diabetes?
Daughter: I want to know how it feels. But then I want it to go away. Because I could not eat chocolate Guiness cake (a favorite in our household).
Michele: What if you could still eat a small piece of cake. Would you want diabetes?
Daughter: Then I would not care. I would want to try diabetes. Is it bad that I want it?
Michele: What do you think?
Daughter: I think it would be a cool for a day or two. To have diabetes.
Michele: Do you worry about getting diabetes since mommy has it?
Daughter: No, not really. It’s okay. I don’t care if I get it.
Michele: Would you be afraid?
Daughter: No, I would not be afraid. But I would not want to give the shots.
Daughter: Is diabetes as bad as people say it is? Did you want diabetes?
Michele: Whew ( I think about these two big questions before I answer them). Who says it is bad?
Daughter: People. That is what a lot of people think.
Michele: Really. Has anyone ever told you diabetes is bad?
Daughter: No, but giving shots (she has a friend at school who takes shots), changing your pump, pricking your finger. That all seems bad. Like it hurts. Stuff that hurts is bad.
Michele: Well, it does hurt a little bit. But it is not bad. You have seen me prick my finger or insert my pump needle. It is part of life for Mommy and other diabetics. I need to test my blood so I know how much insulin to give. And the insulin keeps me alive. So taking shots or using my insulin pump saves my life every single day. A good thing, not a bad thing. These bad “things” help me manage my diabetes and keep me healthy.
Michele: And I did not want diabetes. It was a gift that was given to me. I was meant to have it for some reason. Everyone is different and gets special gifts in life. One of mine just happens to be diabetes.
Daughter: Like how I am left handed?
Michele: Yes, like how you are left handed.
Michele: So do you still want diabetes?
Daughter: Well, I guess I really don’t want diabetes. But if I get it, that is okay. It’s just a disease. Kind of like being sick. But not real sick. You have to take care of yourself. God gives it to you. He feels like you need it.
Michele: Let’s call diabetes a condition. Disease and sick sounds a little scary dont’ you think?
Daughter: Yes. Very scary.
Michele: So let’s say diabetes is a condition – a nicer word. Or better yet, a gift. And if you get the gift, you can’t return it, but you sure can live with it. And have a very good life. Look at the amazing life I have. Do I seem sick?
Michele: I didn’t think so. Why don’t we leave your sign up overnight, and in the morning you can take it down. Cool?
Michele: Let’s call it a night then… We can talk more about diabetes in the morning if you want.
Have a good evening everyone!