Today is Halloween, which is celebrated in different ways by different cultures and has different backgrounds and origins, depending on who you ask. For the majority of children in North America, it represents a night where they can dress up in their favourite costume and canvass their neighbourhood for free candy and chocolate handouts. I could try and choose my favourite origin for this day but rather, I think it’s more important to describe my perspective from the Diabetic standpoint.
As a child, I would be brought out for Halloween with my mother and older brother. I would receive at every door and fill this small, plastic pumpkin bucket that my brother and I both had. It would be loads of fun and I remember that as a child, I would love trick-or-treating. That is, until I got home and reality came crashing down… Although I made my way out for Halloween when I was 3-years old, I was diagnosed with Type-1 Diabetes when I turned 4, permanently altering my level of involvement and enjoyment with the holiday.
No matter how much or how little candy was collected, the process would involve dumping our collected goods on the kitchen table where my mother and father would sort and go through everything to determine what I could have and what I couldn’t. Sounds reasonable, right? This is what most parents do but in my case, it meant removing ALL of the candy and leaving only a couple of apples and some chips. My parents were unfortunately oblivious to the fact that both of those items had carbohydrates and sugars in them.
It would seem like a cruel twist that I would be permitted to walk in the elements all evening, knocking on every door and actively collecting all that goodness, only to have it all taken away from me because I had Diabetes. Oh sure, there would be times of low blood sugar where I might get lucky and enjoy a piece of my hard-gotten candy but it was pretty rare. Especially once my parents and family got into the stash and helped themselves.
It may not seem like the worst thing that can happen to a person but for a child, it can be reasonably upsetting, which meant that by the time I reached my oldest son’s age of 7, I outright refused to celebrate or participate in Halloween. This only contributed to my loner persona as I wouldn’t even wear a costume to school. “You do know that a costume won’t affect your blood sugars, right?” Yeah, small consolation for the young child who sees everyone else gorging themselves with candy.
It created a bit of a hatred on my part for the particular holiday, especially since the main focus in Western society is on the trick-or-treat aspect. That is, until I had children of my own. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no fan of walking out in the cold while my kids are trying to get free candy. But I an certainly appreciate their enthusiasm and excitement and I get the benefit of knowing that they don’t suffer from the same condition as I do, so I get to live vicariously through their eyes as they get to totally enjoy the fruit of their efforts. Or rather, the candy of their efforts. Sometimes, perspective is ALMOST as important as participation. Happy Halloween! ☯️