Diabetes Dad

A Plea to Two Fathers Running for President

Tom picBy Tom Karlya

September 2012 — Dear Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney,

Happy Father's Day to you both.

Like both of you, I am a dad who loves my country. I am always interested in people's families, and I have learned a little about yours. As another dad, allow me to share a little about mine.

I have been blessed with three wonderful children. You would like them. My oldest is working very hard to enter the New York City Police Academy this summer. He volunteers his time as a fireman on Long Island — recently, he was very involved with the fires out east that captured national news. My prayers begin every time he jumps in his car, turns on his lights, and heads to a fire. He puts his life on the line for others and runs into the very place people are running from. His name is Tom, but we call him T.J.

My daughter, Kaitlyn, graduated college on May 18th. If all plans move accordingly, she will be in the medical field after she completes her post graduate studies. She is a certified EMT and volunteers with our local ambulance. She works with kids, volunteering her time with children who are in need. She is a Girl Scout Gold recipient and truly lives life to the fullest. She is the type of person who is as excited to open gifts in a stocking as she is with a box three feet in height.

My son, Rob, is a junior in high school. He works at the local fast food restaurant, studies like he is supposed to, and is a genius when it comes to computer gaming (well, we all think he is a genius). He is debating the many roads before him. He has many interests and loves discussing current events. We often take opposing sides on a subject just to have an engaging discussion. He is very good at it — perhaps a future candidate himself.

They're not perfect kids. They need to do more around the house and they make mistakes that many kids make. We surely correct them as needed, but they are good and respectful kids. As fathers, I know you appreciate all of the joy our kids give to us. We only want the best for them, now and in the future, don't we?

From what I can gather from my readings about you, your families are fairly healthy. I'm writing today because, you see, mine is not. Both Kaitlyn and Rob do all they do while living with type 1 diabetes, a disease that must be watched 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. They get no break, and if they're not careful, it could cost them their very lives. Kaitlyn was diagnosed at age 2 in 1992. Imagine doing all that she has done in her life and doing it all with diabetes? Rob was diagnosed at age 13 on March 20th, 2009, four days after my dad passed away. My dad was a veteran of World War 2, you both would have liked him as well.

I'm known to many people throughout the diabetes community as "Diabetes Dad". As you see, I write this column that pertains to living with diabetes. Against any notion that we ever had when my wife and I first began our lives together, we have become experts in the field of diabetes. We are experts after the tens of thousands of times our kids have had to prick their fingers to measure their blood glucose levels; the thousands of injections of insulin they've needed to stay alive; the sleepless nights due to low blood sugars; the balancing of their daily lives and school with diabetes; the fear we have every night and the relief every morning from just knowing they are still alive and have not died from a low blood sugar in the middle of the night. It's a tough life. Yet through it all, we find the positive and we move forward. It's the hope of all dads that their children will be successful and happy in whatever their dreams may be and wherever their journey may lead them, don't you agree?

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Last Modified Date: June 12, 2013

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by Brenda Bell
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