How do you even begin to explain to your children, what diabetes is? It’s extremely important for them to know, but how much is enough?
My eldest has always been curious about my diabetes and all the technology I am so lucky to have.
He has many interesting questions;
“Mami, How’s does my body know how to produce insulin and yours doesn’t?
“What is Insulin?”
“What does insulin do?”
“When your sugar goes too high, what’s happening inside your body?”
“How does my body know when to stop giving me insulin, when I’ve eaten something?”
Which really helps me explain diabetes better and with ease. I try my best to answer his questions, as simply as I possibly can. Confusion and worry is the last thing you want, especially when you’re trying to enlighten a 6 year old about diabetes. Now I’ve come to think about it, I wouldn’t want to confuse anyone. There’s already enough confusion when it comes diabetes.
It’s not an easy job, but who said it was going to be? The fact that he is even asking, shows me that he has an interest in what is happening with me, me, his mother.
The way I look at it is, his questions are an opening, an opportunity for me to show him this side of me. He’s at that age, where he questions everything. He wants to know more. The short answer isn’t good enough. He wants to know every last detail. However, I still approach the ‘diabetes’ subject in a gentle way.
He’s observed me countless times changing my insert and knows that when I prick my finger, I’m in fact checking my sugar level. He’ll watch and wait for the numbers, close his eyes and say, “I really hope it’s a good number mami.” (Heart break) He now also knows that I’m looking for the best number range to appear on the screen of my BG meter.
What truly amazed me the other day, was when I was having a hypo. I made mention that I was feeling hungry, so he asked me if I wanted him to get my BG meter so I could test my level. So I said, “Yes ok”. I pricked my finger, applied the blood to the strip and he wait to see what it read. It was 4.2 and most likely on its way down, considering the way I was starting to feel. Before I could even get up, he’d ran to the kitchen and brought back a box of juice from my goody draw and said, “Here you go mami.”
Recently, he asked me if he could test his BG level, which totally blew me away. He is a very sensitive soul and extremely squeamish when it comes to cuts and blood, so I was shocked that he even asked. Of course, I completely jumped on this opportunity to explain to him what was required to test a BG level. Then, I asked him if he was ready he said, yes. I pricked him, he flinched a little bit and then smiled. We quickly put the blood on the test strip and he waited with excitement to see what numbers would appear.
I praised him for being such a brave boy and he responded with, “mami, I don’t know how you do this every day.” I smiled at him, trying not to cry up a storm and I just explained to him that it was something that I had to do. Just like sleeping and eating, are the things we all need to do. He replied with, “but this is harder and you’re very brave mami.” (Heartbreak)
Now my 2 year old, as young as that might seem has also started to develop a very basic understanding of me having to always check my BG levels and change my insert. From the moment she was born, she’s been observing me, pricking my fingers and most likely hearing the familiar beeping sounds, being emitted from my pump.
Her favourite kiddie show is doc Mc stuffin’s and there’s a theme song. “Time for your check-up”. How do I explain this, she’s a child, who plays a doctor who fixes broken toys by finding a diagnosis. Yes I watch it too hahaha!
This morning, she ran to find my BG meter and reminded me, that I needed to do have a check-up. I laughed! She stood there with a huge smile on her face, while waiting eagerly for me to do it. Usually, when she sees blood she’ll say, “Ouch!” However, this time she just watched. Another thing she has taken to doing is, asking me if I’ve done a check-up when were sat down to a meal. When this happened for the first time, I realised that she had made the connection between me eating and testing my BG.
See already her understanding is developing!
They both amaze me because they aren’t frightened to be around my diabetes. It’s become quite normal for them to see me change my insert or test my BG. They have the understanding that it is a part of me and I think that they are alright with that. As they mature, they’ll develop a further understanding and in turn they will have a better understanding of my daily lifestyle.
Word of advice….
If your children are asking you about your diabetes, don’t be afraid to explain it to them. Be open and honest with them, let them in. You’re important to them, if not one of the most important things in their lives. Even if they aren’t asking questions, you can always start by mentioning little things, giving them snippets of your life.
Although, this is an experience about me and my family, this can be related to anyone in any relationship. If they are asking questions, answer them as simply as you can. Once you’ve opened that door of conversation, the questions will come thick and fast. But don’t panic! Don’t give too much detail at once and scare them to death. Stay positive when expressing things to them, which will allow them to absorb the information with confidence and know that things are ok with you. Diabetes awareness starts at home. Just think the knowledge you pass on to your loved ones, could potentially help another person in the future.
Please comment below and let me know your stories and how you’ve explained ‘diabetes’ to your loved ones?
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Thank you Ally.