Diabetes talk with my 7 year old

I have a good friend who has a 5 year old Type 1 son (J). And yesterday morning she had to take him to the ER, to later find out he was in DKA. Luckily they caught it early and he’s doing MUCH better today.

But last night, I told my 7 yr old that J was in the hospital and not feeling well. He asked me if he was ok, and I said he was doing much better. He asked what was wrong, and I said “Well, his diabetes made him not feel well.”

Keep in mind .. we JUST had a conversation about diabetes being dangerous the other day …

And he matter-of-factly tells me, “You know, you can die from diabetes.” I said, “Well, you don’t technically die from diabetes. But the complications from diabetes, are what can cause problems.” (He’s not your average 7 yr old.) He said, “Well I’m sure that J will be ok because he takes care of himself and takes his insulin, just like you do. But if you don’t do those things, and take care of yourself, you can die.”

Ugh. I hate that he even knows that. Or goes there. Or that it’s such a part of his life that he is fine talking so matter-of-factly about it. And even more, I hate that he’s right. But I again assured him that I do take care of myself. And that J takes care of himself (along with his mommy and daddy, of course) so we will both be just fine.

He also said, “In the old days people used to die after they found out they had diabetes. They didn’t have insulin pumps, or even insulin a long long time ago. So if someone found out they had diabetes, they might live a few days, or even a few hours.” (I have NO idea where he gets this stuff.) I told him that they’ve come a LONG way with technology that can keep people with diabetes alive MUCH longer. I told him that it’s been over 22 years since I found out I had it – which prompted him to ask me how I knew I had it. I gave him the short version, and he asked me, “But how do you know you didn’t have it a long time before you KNEW you had it?” (again .. not your average 7 year old.) I said that I’m sure that my pancreas was starting to not work for awhile before the doctors realized what was happening– I was told at one point that I’d probably been sick for about 6 months before my diagnosis.

He pondered all of that, and then went back to his Legos. 😉

About Shannon

I am a wife, a mommy, and a Type 1 diabetic (since '92.) I have had two successful pregnancies - one of which was with twins. I wear an insulin pump- - off and on for 21 years; most recently on the Medtronic pump and Dexcom CGM. I am not a medical professional, nor am I giving medical advice. I am just sharing my day to day stories of someone who lives with this disease every day. My ultimate goal is to raise awareness.
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