I have been big on awareness for years. I want everyone to know about diabetes. I want them to understand the signs and symptoms. I do not want another family to go through what we did when Liam was diagnosed. I want doctors to be thinking. I want parents to understand. I want caregivers to know the serious nature of this disease. I want teachers to be caring and thoughtful. I want to alleviate the fear of the unknown and simply allow the fear of what we do know. Its a healthy fear that garners respect for a horrible illness.
This has been a huge part of my life for almost 10 years now. I don’t think a lot about it. It is part of who I am. Liam has a very different take. Its something that is a part of him but its private. Its not to be shared. Its just to be lived with until a cure is found. He will get by. Leave him be and let him live his life. This means that when his teacher asked him to tell her about diabetes his only response was “I have no restriction on what I can eat.” That told her a lot! She thought he could out grow this. Boy did she learn a few things with me.
Recently I have become to see a third perspective when dealing with this disease. Its what I would have to call the car phenomenon. You know that when you buy a new car its perfect for you! No one else has a car like it. The color is unique. The styling is just yours…until you drive off the lot. Suddenly there are 10 other cars your color on your block! You see twenty other cars of the same model in the grocery store parking lot. Your special, unique car is EVERYWHERE! It turns out that the same can be said when you are introduced to someone with diabetes!
A friend of mine has two aging parents who live with Type 2 diabetes. They are able to manage with diet and exercise. The father has to test once or twice a day but his control is excellent. My friend had not really had much to do with someone with Type 1 until meeting my son. There was a kid that he went to school with. He knew that there were dietary restrictions and needles. He knew that the child didn’t always feel the best but it was nothing more than a fleeting memory.
He watched us with Liam and still didn’t quite get the full scope. Liam had a low and he knew that I was up through the night. He quickly heard the constant…”Liam did you test” and wondered how in the world the poor child handled that child of nagging. I tried to explain that it was necessary because Liam forgets two seconds after you tell him something. I didn’t push any learning and simply answered questions.
Imagine his surprise when he went to the grocery store and a man came and sat at his table with him. There were all sorts of other places but this guy decided to sit by my friend. He told him that his blood sugar was low and he had to eat now. I am guessing he told my friend this because he started his meal with his dessert and my friend was looking at him a little odd. My friend was blown away by the coincidence. He had only known Liam for a short time and now he was meeting a stranger who had diabetes as well.
As I said, its the car phenomenon all over again because the people he met did not stop there. He took his car to a garage to do some work. The owner’s wife has type 1. He took his moose to the butcher to be cut up. The butcher and his friend both had type 1. This was the biggest awakening for my friend. These gentlemen told him of the amputations and complications that they had experienced. The butcher showed him his pump and told him how important it was to his life. My friend and his brother walked away speechless. They now understood why I harped on to Liam about testing. He began to understand how terrible diabetes was. He is shocked by the number of people that he knows living with this disease but before meeting us, well it somehow never came up.