Guest Post: Living with a Dad Who is Living with Diabetes.
Today's guest post comes from Manny Hernandez of TuDiabetes.com (and he's also the author of Ning for Dummies - order it on Amazon!). Manny and I presented at a conference in Philadelphia in June and while we were decompressing in the hotel bar, we talked about kids and handling diabetes when you are a parent. I asked him to give me his perspectives on diabetes and his son, Santiago, and I'm proud to be posting his thoughts here.
Take it away, Manny!
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When my friend Kerri asked me for to guest blog on SixUntilMe, I couldn't say no. She suggested that I write about how I explain diabetes and diabetes "goodies" to my son, Santiago (who thankfully doesn't have diabetes).
Back when I started being active about diabetes online, in early 2007 (he was three at the time) whenever he saw me doing a vlog, he was curious about it. He even sneaked into a few of the early podcasts I did, introducing himself as "Santiago from TuDiabetes" which we obviously were super-proud of. But what does diabetes really mean to him?
At some point, when he realized his dad had diabetes, he wanted to have diabetes, so he could be like his dad. Though I was proud to hear that (the "wanting to be like his dad part") I obviously didn't want him to develop diabetes. So I explained to him that diabetes is not something nice to have. It's something that requires poking one's fingers to test one's blood sugar, taking shots of insulin to keep blood sugars in control and living with the discomfort (and dangers) of highs and lows.
Since he turned 1 or 2, we signed him up for TrialNet. This involves getting blood drawn from him to send to a lab as part of these national trials to help with diabetes research. We get a letter a few weeks after every draw indicating the results (with him being a son of a diabetic, he's at a higher risk): when the letter comes in the mail, I hold my breath every time until I can read the result: "Your son tested negative for GAD antibodies..." Previous years, we'd taken him to have his blood drawn w/o a problem, but the most recent time, it cost us Episodes I, II and III of Star Wars (which I was able to find for a little over $20!) and a whole new level of love for Star Wars that I had forgotten about (from when I was his age and older).
Over time, he has stopped hoping to become diabetic. Thankfully (for me), he quickly understood how much a kick in an infusion site felt like a kick you-know-where, so we've established a code where I put my hand near my set when he's close to me (like when we're playing together) and tell him "Be careful, you know what I have there..." or something along those lines, and so far it's worked fairly well. :)
In the past year or so he picked up something that showed how much he cares about his dad. Because when I am low I tell him "I am not feeling well." Now, if I don't feel well because of a cold or something like that, and I tell him that, he will look for my meter and bring it to me, so I can test... and he actually wants to test too. He just prefers if it is with a "device that doesn't feel like a puya" -a syringe-like poke, in Spanish.
His solidarity and understanding, the way he shows his care and his knowledge about diabetes motivate me and make me want to take better care of myself.
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Thank you, Manny. And thank you, Santi, for being a great diabetes caregiver for your dad.