Having diabetes is a burden, but it can also bring maturity.
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!
May 2010 — I am writing this column the night before my son's 14th birthday. In the past two weeks, it seems that both he and I have grown significantly. A couple of weeks ago, I met with his diabetes doctor to talk about the kinds of things we need to consider as he begins to think about college. We wanted to know what we need to keep mind when approaching colleges, what to look for in a particular school, what we will need to have in place for him medically, what kinds of services he will need, and what supports he should have in place.
The same day, he told me that he has a girlfriend, his first. It meant a lot that he came to me and told me on his own. He was honest about his feelings, and the conversation eventually led back to a talk about diabetes. He said he had been wondering about what it would be like when he started dating, how a girlfriend would feel about and react to him having diabetes, and whether or not it would be an issue in a relationship.
These seemingly unrelated events have had a huge impact on the topic of this column-how having diabetes as a young child can impact the rest of your development and maturity. I realized during the conversations about both topics how wise and mature he is for a kid his age, how many things he has managed to figure out at such a young age (like not wanting to date someone whose friendship you can't afford to lose if things don't work out), and how much he has learned about how strong he is. He knows how to be his own advocate, how to anticipate things that might happen, and how to make educated decisions about his health and safety.
There are so many things to hate about your child having diabetes, and I am never shy about voicing them. I guess it is just as important to comment on when it has given your child skills they may not have without having had this disease as a child. As many times as we have wished he didn't have diabetes, we can't ignore the strengths that having the disease has brought him. The knowledge, awareness and maturity that are required to manage so much responsibility affect other areas of his life and their impact cannot be ignored.
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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Years before I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, The Other Half came out of a doctor's appointment with a diagnosis of "borderline diabetes" and an ADA exchange diet sheet. His health insurance agency followed up on the diagnosis with a glucometer and test strips. After a year or so of trying to follow the diet plan and test his glucose levels, things appeared to be back in "normal" range, and stood there until a couple of years after my own diagnosis. Shortly...