My 10 year old son, Josh, is a real hero. He has dealt with the ups and downs (literally) of my diabetes for most of his life, and has always been funny, level-headed, and shockingly mature and responsible about dealing with something that a young boy should not have to deal with.
A day doesn’t go by without Josh asking me, “Daddy, have you tested?” Sometimes he’s asking just to make conversation, but other times, he’s asking because he thinks I’m acting weird. If I say “Yes,” he’ll reply, “What were you?” He knows his stuff, and if I say I was 60, the next question is, “And what did you eat?”
Josh is a ham, and he loves to re-enact all of my blood sugar mishaps. I never really knew how I acted when my sugar was seriously low until Josh started giving me dramatic, detailed, minute-by-minute replays of everything I said and did: “Then daddy, when you started sweating, you opened the freezer and put your head in there for a minute and then started taking all the remote controls from the living room and putting them in the oven because you said they were getting too cold. Then you…wait…I need to get the dogs to help me act this out right…”
Josh understands my condition well, and back when I was having trouble with frequent and severe insulin reactions, he was forced into some tough situations where he had to call the neighbors and tell them I was having an insulin reaction. Not only did he do that, he would hunt down fast acting sugar and convince me to eat it. That is something that even my wife had a hard time doing. Josh knew that if the neighbors weren’t home, and if my condition wasn’t improving or I wasn’t cooperating, the next step was to call a paramedic. He had the whole system memorized, and could be depended on to be cool as a cucumber in a stressful situation.
I hate to admit this, but there were even two instances where Josh had to intervene while I was driving. He knew I was low, and he had to calmly tell me to pull over and test. He did this with the finesse of a hostage negotiator, and successfully guided me safely through the situation. These were extremely dangerous events, and it’s difficult to admit that I was putting my son’s life at risk because of poorly managed diabetes. Ultimately, Josh and Theresa were the impetus that drove me to find solutions to the problems I was having with insulin reactions. It was difficult to see my family being so supportive, and not reciprocating by taking control of my condition. I knew something had to be done.
About a year ago, I undertook the process of relearning everything I thought I knew about diabetes and revamping my management methods. As a family we made some massive changes, some of which Josh REALLY doesn’t like (not eating cereal being one). I’ve reached the point that I can say, without knocking on wood, that I don’t have insulin reactions (severe hypoglycemia) anymore. I know that sounds like I’m tempting fate, but there are definitely ways to minimize, if not eliminate, the risk of being so low that I’m unable to care for myself. I still have lows, but they are mild and manageable.
I have my 10 year old son to thank for this. He’s a constant reminder of why I want to live a long and healthy life, and he’s a great coach who’s always encouraging me to keep at it.
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