How to Answer
But knowing how to answer is the hard part.
By Deanna Glick
Editor's Note: While this columnist is no longer writing for dLife.com and we have ceased to update the information contained herein, there is much to be read here that is still applicable to the lives of people with diabetes. If you wish to act on anything you learn here, be sure to consult your doctor first. Please enjoy the column!
June 2011 — "Mommy, does that hurt?"
The question came from my 4-year-old daughter one recent afternoon as I was piercing the needle of a new infusion set through a pinched piece of flesh on my stomach.
This seemed to be one of the easier ones that emit from her lips these days. But I wanted to think about how to answer. Because I have learned that there will most certainly be follow up questions. Sometimes right away. Sometimes the next day. Sometimes a few weeks or even months later. But her brain will take my answers, move them through the back roads of her brain and produce more queries as a result. The questions will keep coming. So I need to be very careful about knowing how to answer.
Case in point: Just a few weeks before, she comes up with this:
"So, Mommy, I came out of your tummy. But how did I get in there?"
"You grew in there."
A couple of weeks went by. Then it was:
"So, Mommy, I came out of your tummy. But how did I get in there again?"
"You grew in there."
"But how?" she stammers.
"Well, there are a bunch of eggs in Mommy's tummy and one of them grew and that was you."
"So, like, I hatched?"
"Yes, sort of."
"So why didn't they just take the rest of the eggs out of there?"
"Because they didn't need to. They just sit there and they aren't hurting anything."
The conversation ended. For the moment. I adore these conversations. And I dread them. I'm not always on my A-game when they happen. This is why parenthood is hard. It happens in real time, whether you're prepared and know how to answer or not. I mean, who ever thinks their kid will ask about the birds the bees before kindergarten? Yikes.
I don't want to lie to my little girl. And I don't want to give her more information than she can process. And I dread the day – and it will come – when she connects the various words she's come to associate with Mommy having diabetes to realize it's not some innocuous thing that means Mommy gets to have cool machines with buttons.
Blood. Test. Sick (low or high blood sugars blood sugars). Help. Doctor.
Do I really want to add "hurt" to this list? To a 4-year-old, "hurt" is a very bad thing. "Hurt" means you need a Band-Aid. Or it might mean you'll die like Grandma or her beloved dog. She understands that everyone dies. But she feels confident it happens because someone is "old" or "sick" and couldn't get better. I think about her hearing the words seeing me do things that "hurt" or hearing me say that I'm "sick" with any sort of regularity and the subsequent alarm going off in her head.
I may be over-thinking this whole thing. Or maybe I should just lie. Oh, the shades of gray in life.
I ended up telling my daughter that poking the needle into my tummy did hurt a little bit sometimes. And sometimes it didn't hurt at all. And sometimes it hurt a lot, if I did it the wrong way. Just like when the pizza is too hot on your tongue or your toe catches in the bike pedal. No big deal. The "hurt" goes away.
If only that were completely true.
dLife's Viewpoints columnists are not all medical experts, but everyday people living with diabetes and sharing their personal experiences, most often at a set point in time. While their method of diabetes management may work for them, everyone is different. Please consult with your diabetes care team before acting on anything you read here to find out what will work best for you.
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