My nephew Greg (aka Grandpa Henry) is headed back to Cali after a lengthy visit to Oklahoma. This trip was a bit different than years past because he’s old enough to ask questions – Real Questions. He no longer holds back pointing out bald people in the grocery store or asking awkward questions about a person’s physique at inappropriate times. During this particular visit, it was clear he needed answers. Why was I pricking my finger? Does it hurt? Why do I give shots? This short video documents one of MANY conversations I had with him and made me think – how do you discuss diabetes with a child?
Many kiddos in my life seem to notice I test my BG or shoot up before eating. Children are curious and unfiltered so I think it’s better to address T1D sooner than later. As I’m more comfortable talking about my life with diabetes, I take the opportunity to engage them in a conversation when I notice all eyes are focused on me. Below are a few inquiries to help get the “how to respond” wheels turning.
Why are you making yourself bleed?
- I prick my finger (which doesn’t hurt) and put it on a test strip. The machine tells me my blood sugar. Want to see?
- If I know the child really well, I might jokingly offer to test them. There haven’t been any takers…
What are you doing (eyes fixated on my syringe)?
- I’m giving myself an insulin shot. My body no longer makes insulin so I need shots to help me feel good.
- This conversation can also assure them that shots aren’t scary and don’t hurt. That’s not necessarily the case, but as you can tell by GP Henry’s response – he can relate via a flu shot.
Why do you have diabetes?
- Well, when I was 8 years old, my pancreas (I point to my side) quit working. Now I give insulin shots, eat healthy meals and exercise to feel good every day.
- Should you be cynical, you could make a weird joke. Nothing comes to mind, but this approach reminds me of my great uncle who was missing a finger. He had a different story each time we asked – I lost it while picking my nose, a bear bit it off…
I’m no expert or a parent for that matter, but try to roll with the punches. Kids are curious and I’m happy to chat about diabetes in hopes it will prevent them from being the inconsiderate adult who stares at me from across the restaurant.
If you have T1D, this conversation will or has come up at some point. The DDG is all about real support for the diabetes life so shoot us a comment below or FB message with lingo on how you handled a similar scenario.
Item in question – Fishbowl filled with lancets.