It never fails. You get up from a less-than-satisfying night’s sleep. Perhaps your blood sugar levels are low, or you have some unknown secondary illness, like a cold or a persistent cough. You stagger into the kitchen and you prepare yourself some food in order to bring back some vestiges of normalcy, when an interfering lump of 4-year old waddles in and sticks his nose into the food your making. The conversation usually goes like this:
KID: What are you doing, daddy?
PARENT: I’m making food, pal. Do you want some?
KID: (sniffs your food experimentally) No, I don’t like that stuff!
PARENT: Do you want anything else?
PARENT: You’re sure…?
KID: Yeah! (kid runs off)
You walk away with your plate, satisfied in the fact that you covered the bases and that you’re in the clear. You test your blood glucose and bolus with a dose of insulin specifically measured for the food on your plate. Your pump responds and starts pumping the life-sustaining medication into your subcutaneous tissue and you start enjoying your meal. Then, the 4-year old lump returns and eyeballs your plate. The second conversation usually goes like this:
KID: Mmmm, that looks good… (reaches for my plate)
PARENT: Hold it, buddy! That’s daddy’s food!
KID: But I want some…
PARENT: I asked you if you wanted some earlier, and you said no!
KID: But I want some now… (lip starts quivering and a meltdown is imminent)
What do you do? Considering children of this age are often picky eaters to start with, it’s a little difficult to refuse them when they actually WANT to eat! You can either buckle down and refuse, potentially forced to deal with the meltdown that will ensue. Or you can surrender your food and deal with the aftermath on your health, blood sugar levels and let’s be honest… your sanity.
It’s difficult to weigh the best option; especially when it affects your personal health. I’ll admit to surrendering my food since, in my state of perpetual exhaustion I prefer to scavenge for something else to replace the carbs I’ve given up than deal with prospect of trying to eat my food WHILE having a persistent child drooling over my shoulder. Maybe not the BEST way to approach it, but I’m a martial artist, not a child psychologist.
The challenge is when he takes only a portion of what I have, making it all the more difficult to balance and measure how much food of another type I require to replace the lost carbs. Or what I hate the most is to have him take some of my food and leave me to scramble for something else to eat before my blood sugars start lowering to that point of no return, only to discover the plate with almost the entire uneaten portion sitting on the table because he once again decided he didn’t like it. But I digress…
The food analogy (although the most frequent) is only one example. Children provide an issue for Diabetic parents on many fronts. I remember that when I started on my insulin pump, my son was barely more than a year old. As time went by, issues needed to be addressed in relation to recognizing daddy’s “ouchie” and staying away from my tubes and buttons. Not an easy task for a small child as the temptation is great when they see a small device to play with. What’s been even harder is trying to convince your child that, daddy isn’t eating candy because he WANTS to, he’s eating it because he HAS to and it isn’t sharing time.
I was rather lucky in the sense that I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at roughly the same age as my son is now. As strange as that may sound, it was lucky because I’ve never known any different and I was able to grow with my condition and learn to respect it without allowing it to control me.
Conversation and education is important for children. Although they may not be able to understand absolutely everything happening to you, explanations and reinforcement of the rules can mean the difference between maintaining yourself or having your infusion set accidentally ripped out. ☯