This afternoon I met up with some type 1 diabetic children/teens and their parents to talk a little bit about my climb to Mount Kilimanjaro as well as my life with type 1 diabetes. I don't spend a lot of time with children nor teens with type 1 diabetes nor their parents, simply because I know more type ones that are young adults and living on their own. So, my perspective of type 1 diabetes comes from my own personal experiences of course and that of those living in similar situations as myself.
So, to talk with younger people living with type one and/or their parents is always a different experience because they are experiencing diabetes in a much different light than me. I remember speaking to a twelve year old diabetic girl a couple years ago, and she told me that recess is hard. Now, to me when I think back to recess, it was hard at times, only because if you fought with your best friend the day before, she may be ignoring you, making recess leaving you feel lonely. Or, if your mom refused to buy you the 'cool' fruit roll up snacks, and you're left with some carrot sticks or the no name gummies you may feel un-cool or jealous. But, the reality for a type 1 child at recess is that they can be bullied for having type 1 diabetes on the playground, they can be left feeling segregated because Jill is sharing her cupcakes from her birthday party, and insulin has already been administered. Recess is difficult for type 1 children, but I personally have not experienced type one diabetes as a child.
This empathic view point is what many parents of type one diabetics are left feeling. Simply because many of them may not know exactly what their child is going through, but at the same time can deeply empathize with them. It is hard for me to view what I do as a hard job when I realize how much work and deep understanding these parents of diabetic children or teens must go through. I get that when I am grumpy or feeling agitated that likely my blood sugar is high and if it isn't then I likely know the reason why I am feeling grumpy i.e bad test marks, argument with a friend or parent. But, for parents or guardians of type one children, the child may not be able to really tell you exactly how they feel in the same manner.
Diabetes is almost like a completely different disease through the eyes of the beholder or supporter. Constantly we are trying to understand that of what our (diabetics) caregivers are going through and visa vera, caregivers are trying to understand what their diabetics are going through. There isn't a right or wrong way of understanding the life of a diabetic nor the life of a caregiver of a diabetic, because diabetes means different things to different people.
We just have to acknowledge the hard work that both caregivers and diabetics put into their daily lives in order to stay alive, happy and healthy.