Great Strength from Great Adversity

How diabetes makes our kids stronger.

two extremesBy Karen Hargrave-Nykaza

Editor's Note: While this columnist is no longer writing for 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 2011 — When we think of our kids with diabetes, it's easy for our minds to immediately go to the ways in which diabetes limits what they, or we, think that they can do. There are obvious physical limitations that diabetes imposes, regardless of what kind of good control someone has over their blood sugar. Low blood sugars, needing to eat certain foods at certain times, and the effects of exercise kicking in at unpredictable times are all part of living with diabetes no matter what you do. There are so many facts that set us up to think of diabetes in terms of the limitations it creates.


While I definitely tend to be a glass-half-empty kind of person, after your child has lived with the disease for awhile, you also can't help but begin to see some of the strengths that can come with having diabetes. Certainly nothing that could ever offset how much the disease sucks, but strengths nonetheless.

Kids who grow up with diabetes can become more responsible at an early age. They learn about being prepared for emergencies because they're used to being prepared for a low; they understand what working through adversity and difficulty means, and they know how to do it; and they may not accept what they see as limitations as easily as someone who hasn't had to push their own limits quite as hard. This may create a determination, or even a rebellion, that allows them to believe there is little or nothing they can't accomplish.

When you look at what certain individuals with diabetes have done with their lives, it gives you even more hope and inspiration. Celebrities and athletes who have lived and achieved great success can teach us all that nothing should hold our children back from striving to achieve great things. Halle Berry, Mary Tyler Moore, Jean Smart, Nick Jonas, and Brett Michaels are just a few celebrities who have lived in the spotlight with diabetes and had very successful careers. Perhaps they were even motivated by some of those hidden strengths. Sean Busby, Arthur Ashe, Gary Hall Jr., and Billie Jean King took that a step further by competing in professional sports despite having type 1 diabetes.

So each time we think of diabetes and the limitations it presents our kids, maybe we also need to think of a corresponding strength it may be providing them with. We have all heard that great strength comes from great adversity. No matter how much we may not want to admit that diabetes could ever provide our child with something positive, it may be true, and could even develop into a long lasting trait that benefits our child for years to come.

Read more of Karen Hargrave's columns here.

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.

Last Modified Date: May 30, 2013

All content on is created and reviewed in compliance with our editorial policy.

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by Brenda Bell
As I mentioned in an earlier post, one of the benefits that made it cost-effective for me to go with the real healthcare (HSA) plan rather than the phony (HRA) plan is that my company is now covering "preventative" medicines at $0 copay. The formulary for these, as stated by CVS/Caremark (my pharmacy benefits provider), covers all test strips, lancets, and control solutions. I dutifully get my doctor to write up prescriptions for all of my testing needs, submit...
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