My Middles is 11. He plays video games. In fact if left to himself he would play video games for 12-14 hours – emerging from his room only occasionally to get sustenance. He would do that very stealthy so I wouldn’t see him and remind him to put away clothes, pick up a room, or go outside to play. I’m ashamed to admit there have been days that is a true story. My day gets hectic and I “forgot” him. He is an easy kid. Never demanding and always considerate of others. But he knows that if I see him I’m going to “suggest” he turn off the games, do some chores, and play outside. It’s hard for me to make him turn off the games. He plays Xbox Live with his friends back in TX. I hate pulling him away from the friends he misses so terribly. – ok this post is not really about my sons video game addiction. I only mentioned that he plays video games so you would understand why I explained diabetes to him the way I did. Clearly I have some parenting issues regarding video games I need to work on. (I ramble for the next little bit – feel free to skip my rambling and move on to the conversation I share at the end.)
I’m gonna try to avoid discussing my parenting issues again when I tell you that one of his favorite games to play live is ‘Call of Duty – Black Ops’. I’m sure gamers out there would agree that it is one of the best video games ever made. I personally think Mario Bros games are the best games ever made – those and Mr. Do – I loved Mr. Do. Digressing. Sorry.
My son understands military/war type stuff because of his games and some movies including ‘Saving Private Ryan’. He understands (much to my embarrassment) snipers, strike first missions, invasions, whatever. Basically he gets that there are soldiers protecting people and areas and other soldiers trying to invade, capture, kill in that area.
My Middles has lived with diabetes for over 6 years. He ‘doesn’t’ have diabetes his siblings do. He knows all of what is required to care for oneself with diabetes. What he didn’t know or understand was what having diabetes really meant in regards to his own body. I wrote a post a few days ago regarding a really ticked off cat. In it I shared that my Middles failed his last Glucose Tolerance Test. He will be retested soon. Still I couldn’t ignore the results and pretend that we may not yet again be hit with the diabetes stick.
When I got the news about his test failure I was upset. He saw me upset. I tried to play it down. Say that I was tired. Told him not to worry. He still worried. Later that day at the hotel he wouldn’t stop asking for food and since we were staying at a hotel with friends he was asking for their food too. He wasn’t asking for dinner. He wanted snacks and sweets. I kept telling him no. All week Tuesday night – Friday morning, I just kept telling him no sweets. Nothing that I would use to treat a low blood sugar. Friday I was driving him to his friend’s house where he would stay for 24 hours without me. I told him no candy, juice, or anything that says “fruit” but has to be unwrapped (fruit roll-ups, fruit snacks, fruit by the foot – what is all this crap – it certainly isn’t fruit).
Now let me just say – a person with type 1 diabetes can eat anything a person without diabetes can eat. It doesn’t mean they should – in fact the people without diabetes shouldn’t be eating it anyway. IMHO (This does not include Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups – those everyone should eat and if you don’t like them you should send them to me).
Also let me say – eating things with sugar will not, does not, and never has – caused Type 1 diabetes. However – eating those things does make a persons pancreas work harder in both those with diabetes and those without. For a person whose pancreas is acting wonky eating things with lots of processed sugars is just like daring the pancreas to say ‘screw you’. IMHO
Getting back to shooting people.
So on our way to his friend’s house my son asked why he couldn’t have a V8 Splash or fruit snacks anymore (not that he had those things regularly but he did enjoy them while at this friends house in the past). Of course this promptly triggered the tear ducks in my eyes to begin operation ‘can’t hide anything from him’.
I explained about the test results and what it might mean. I explained he might be developing diabetes. (BTW – this is not the first time he heard news that he could develop diabetes – he knows perfectly why he has been participating in the TrialNet studies and getting the GTT tests) I told him he may have to start taking an insulin shot each day to give his pancreas a break. I was sure to use “might” and “may” often. I mean I MAY not be right. I explained how juice, candy and fruit type snacks that aren’t actually fruit at all – could stress out his pancreas.
This is our conversation – I’m sure a number of you are saying “I should have just gone to the conversation”.
Middles: I know we need insulin to stay alive. I know that when you have diabetes your pancreas doesn’t make insulin, but why?
Me: The immune system destroys all the insulin producing cells in the pancreas.
Middles: Blank Stare
Me: You have an immune system that works to keep you healthy. It attacks things that can make you sick.
Me: Think of your immune system as a first line of defense. Little soldiers patrolling your body looking for enemy invaders.
Middles: Ok (his ok was said with great enthusiasm – clearly too much video game time)
Me: So when you get a virus, like the flu, the immune system soldiers seek out the virus and destroy it.
Middles: So why do they destroy the cells that make insulin?
Me: Well I think its like friendly fire. I think a virus or something that shouldn’t be hanging out with the cells that make insulin are, so the immune system thinks the insulin cells are also the enemy. This is just an idea. A possible reason. If scientists knew exactly why then they could stop it. Lots of people are working hard to stop it.
Middles: Oh, that makes sense.
Me: Are you ok?
Middles: Yea, I’m good. Can I still have strawberry shortcake if ****’s mom makes it again? I’m sorry but it was better than yours.
Me: Yes baby. You can have it.
Middles: Awesome. I hope she makes it. We almost there?
My Middles is gonna be fine. Regardless of results of his re-test or what the future might hold. Our family will be fine. Scientists, researchers, doctors, people in the DOC – they are all working to figure it all out. Maybe a cure wont be here in 5 years, 10 years, but it will come. My Middles told me it would. He said he would be part of it. I love my kid.