Defining diabetes to my 12 year old.
My son has witnessed first hand the up and down effects of my daily diabetes management, puzzled over some of the things I do, Played a junior diabetic cop and through it all he has been quite a trooper.
Subsequently his Diabetes IQ has risen quite considerably. For example all I have to say is I am feeling low for him to understand what a Low is and what I need to treat it.
Recently however , I realized that we have never had a conversation about the different types of diabetes and since I tell it alot to anyone who will listen, I kinda naturally assumed he knew.
Last night, I was reading this article on espn.com about the Chicago bears quarterback Jay Cutler and how he has learned to deal with diabetes. My son peered over my shoulder and with a look of disbelief in his face quipped, JAY CUTLER HAS DIABETES!! and subsequently to my yes answer. He is a football player?, he is fit and tall, do you know how much those guys work out? There is no way he has diabetes?
I knew the answer before I even asked the question but in order to provide the correct explanation I had to know exactly what he knew about diabetes. and you guessed it.
Like many all my son knows about diabetes is that its a hereditary disease, being overweight, a poor diet and a lack of exercise will also cause it.
I guess I am partially to blame for not clarifying things.
I did not really expose him to my diabetes earlier on in his life in fact it wasn’t until he was 9 that I told him. He has always believed that I got diabetes because my Mom had it even though I was diagnosed first and that he had a bigger chance of contracting diabetes since I had it.
He had also overheard the pediatrician telling me how he was at risk for diabetes because he is over weight and me always pushing him to exercise more because he did not want a life with diabetes. Combine all those factors and therein lies his confusion and bewilderment.
Its understandable him being 12 and all but the more I thought about it, the more it started to make sense.
As the diabetes epidemic rises inevitably so does the the public awareness of the disease.
We in the diabetes community do our part to raise awareness. November is the official diabetes awareness month, The 14th is world diabetes day, and even a presidential proclamation on diabetes this year simply goes to show the overwhelming effort being brought forth to raise awareness to the Socio -economic impact diabetes has on all of us.
It is a great and magnificent endeavor. Yet while my intention is not to split hairs, if one lesson of the many many lessons to be learned from the Paula Deen Fiasco, its that while diabetes awareness has risen considerably in the past few years, the perceptual knowledge of the disease has a long way to go.
As a diabetic I hear it all the time, You have diabetes? really? but you are not fat or obese at all? are you sure? and on it goes on and on. I am sure many of my fellow diabetics will tell you similar stories and sometimes it can get very frustrating.
Now my son is 12 so I will give him a pass and as I spent a better part of an hour giving him a lesson in diabetes, I had a thought that maybe just maybe we should treat everyone as 12 year old’s when it comes to educating them about diabetes because I am all for diabetes awareness but a little bit more knowledgeable about diabetes could also go a long way..