Little Diabetes Warriors

Sometimes I feel like an idiot. It usually happens when I read a blog by one of my favorite “D” parents telling about how their children are handling life with type 1 diabetes. These brave kids put up with the same things that adults with diabetes do, and some are literally too young to even understand what’s going on. Reading about these little warriors makes me regret even more the fact that I wallowed in self pity all afternoon just because my blood sugar didn’t cooperate flawlessly during my daily walk.

The stories I read about these kids amaze me. One young sports enthusiast loves to ice skate, even though this activity can quickly cause plummeting blood sugars. He simply stops every so often to check his blood sugar and knock back a juice box or glucose tabs. He takes it in stride. Insulin pump site changes or blood sugar tests are done in a quick pause from an afternoon play date.

Children with diabetes learn to be tough as they test their blood sugar and endure injections without hysteria or tantrums. I whined about it for months, if not years, after my diagnosis, but they do what needs to be done and then get on with their day. While everyone has bad days, theirs don’t seem to linger. They continue to laugh, play, and dream about all life has to offer. Their lives consist of so much more than just diabetes.

One of the most upsetting things about type 1 diabetes is the fact that it mainly affects children. I cannot imagine anything more difficult than being in charge of someone else’s diabetes each and every day. Parents of children with diabetes have to be constantly watchful. If food is left on a plate after a meal, they have to figure out how many carbs were actually ingested. If their child throws up, they have to come up with a safe sick day plan at a moment’s notice. The flu or a common cold is suddenly so much more than just an inconvenience. Middle-of-the-night blood sugar checks and worry over birthday parties and sleepovers invade day-to-day life. Even so, parents of children with diabetes roll with it and do what must be done to be sure that their kids live happy and healthy lives.

As I read the “D” parent blogs, I realize how thankful I am that diabetes did not find me until the age of eighteen. My brother-in-law was diagnosed at just four years old. When he tells stories of passing out on the sidewalk from low blood sugar while walking home from school, my heart aches. I’m so thankful that I get to be instant friends with these parents of young children with diabetes and can be a part of their lives, a part of their families. They make me more determined than ever to help fight for that cure and to spread awareness.

Diabetes is not for the weak. It demands huge reserves of strength from each of us. These kids with diabetes, these little diabetes warriors, are stronger than I am on my best day, and each one of them is my hero.

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