Defining diabetes to my 12 year old.

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diabetes awareness month1 Defining diabetes to my 12 year old.As a parent with diabetes, my experiences with the disease are not just viewed through my eyes but through the eyes of my family members as well especially my 12 year old son.

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 jay cutler 184x300 Defining diabetes to my 12 year old.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..

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2 Comments

  1. Ron, I wish it was that easy. I saw a neighbor leaving the Diabetes Clinic in September and she did everything she could to avoid me. Since then when I am out and about, she goes back inside to avoid me. I know why she was there, but there is no getting her to talk about it. Her adult children were visiting this last weekend and as I was going to my car, her son (who had not gone shopping with the women) asked if I knew his mother had diabetes.

    I said yes, but warned him that she was not telling people. He answered he knew that, but since I had diabetes, he wanted some questions answered. We talked for about 30 minutes and he asked for my phone number and email address so that he could ask more questions. He is very interested in learning and I have given him many URLs and today he asked for more. He said he is passing them onto the rest of the family that knows, but not telling where he received them. After I gave him my blog address and several others, he said he has a lot to read and has thanked me several times. He said he is teaching his wife (as her family has diabetes) and their children since the family does have a history for several generations.

    Be prepared for the next round of questions from your son!

    • Bob, People handle a diagnosis differently but I wouldn’t be surprised if she is already stigmatized by her diagnosis. Diabetes is one of the few diseases where the blame game is so amplified, which is another reason why we need to keep pushing for awareness and better education. Its hard enough being diagnosed without the guilty feelings and stigmas that come with it…

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