« Joslin Blogging Project: The Beginning. | Main | D-Blog Day: Media Muggles. »

The Question.

"How old is your daughter?"

"She's two and a half."

"Oh, that's a fun age.  Does she have diabetes?"


"Will she get it, too?"

And this is where I end up tangled in my words and in my emotions.  Sometimes I rattle off statistics ("The chances of my daughter developing type 1 are only slightly higher than a non-diabetic mom, while if it were my husband who had diabetes, her chances would be more elevated,"), and sometimes I respond, "No," and roll their question around in my head for a while.

Please don't ask me this question.  It hurts more than all the others.  I can answer, "Can you eat that?" and "Do you have the 'bad diabetes?'" until my voice is hoarse from answering because it's about me, and I can handle me.  But when it comes to my Bird, I don't want to discuss her health.  I don't want to talk about anything that could hurt her.  My head isn't in the sand, but I thought my heart was walled up tight, to the point where I didn't have a visceral reaction to something as simple as a question.

(It's not walled up at all, though.) 

I know why they ask.  I have that Thought, too.  When people ask this question, my knees go weak while my back muscles tense up, bringing my shoulders back and squared off.  "The chances of my daughter getting diabetes are only slightly increased over the chances of anyone else's kid."  

What I want to say is, "I love that child with everything I have and even though I know she's okay and even if she ends up with diabetes, she'll still be okay, I don't want to think about her living with a disease.  Any disease."

(And then, in this fantasy that takes place only in my head, I whisper "And your question sucks," psychotic crazytown, like Daniel Day-Lewis' character in Gangs of New York, and I punch them in the face so hard that the BAM! word cloud pops up, all old-school Batman.)

It's Diabetes Awareness Month, and I want people to be aware that I'm already aware of the fact that being a parent means I worry about things I didn't even know existed as potential panic points until two and a half years ago.  And I want them to be aware that my child, despite being the daughter of a person with a chronic illness, is still my daughter, and it's hard to think about any potential hardship in her life.  We don't want to focus and worry about things that could happen.  Ask me her favorite color.  Or ask about her favorite Thomas the Tank Engine train.  Ask me what ice cream flavor makes her giggle.  Ask me what songs make her dance like a lunatic.  Don't ask me about her health.  Don't make her feel like she's a ticking time bomb. 

We just want to enjoy one another.

Just let me enjoy her.


I hear you. I have the same reaction when people ask me that about my daughter. She's 19 months. She's perfect. Carefree. Full of life and joy with no boundaries. I don't want to ever think of anything harming her perfect little unscarred body. If diabetes or anything happens, yes, we'll deal with it. But I don't want to have to deal with it if at all possible.

Wow Kerri, some people are ridiculous. Seriously why would anyone be so insensitive as to ask you that question? I can’t possible know exactly how that feels, but probably something like when people question why I’m so intense about Sarah’s care. They assume it’s because she’s out of control because “the kid we had here last year with diabetes didn’t need special accommodations”. It certainly gets the mama dander up quick. I’m sorry people are so rude and ignorant. I think it’s perfectly acceptable to punch them in the face (at least in your mind!).

Maybe it's because I am in this D world but I'd like to think I had sensitivity before. I just want to say I would never EVER ask that question. And yet, I've seen elected officials ask it at diabetes meet and greets. I've seen folks ask it in the supermarket line. I find it more than unsavory: I find it cruel and clueless.

So to you I ask: Will Birdy inherit your wicked sense of humor?

I think I already know the answer .... :-)

You're so right. It's one of the worst questions. We get it all of the time because my husband and I both have diabetes.

Enjoy her.

So insensitive. I'd like to BAM word cloud lots of people. Great post, as usual!

People are super flipping insensitive lately. It's reminding me of times people felt the need to tell me I'm overweight and should stop eating Big Macs... because all fat people live at Mcd's, didn't you know? But yeah, the most obvious is like, "umm I know I'm fat I don't need you to tell me"

GAH. I have a disorder that causes me to pick at my face all the time, more when stressed out. Lately it's been stress city here (and I better be careful, last time this happened I ended up with pneumonia..) so my face is all torn up. 3 people in 2 days felt the need to not only ask me what's on my face but to TOUCH it as well. Adults. I'm just appalled at human beings lately.

So cheer me up and tell me what kind of ice cream can make Birdy laugh?

I get this question all the time. It began eight years ago withmy first son, and has never stopped. Three kids, seven different states and the question never ends, and never gets any easier. Sometimes I want to ask them if their kids are inflicted with insensitivity and rudeness, but I just smile and say no.

I guess I should brace myself for this. I always tell people I am an open-book about Diabetes, but I never thought about the chapters that include my future children. Those emotions have not been born in me yet, but I hope I handle them with half your class.

This post brought tears. I worry about my grandsons more than I should and I worry for my children and still want to protect them (that never goes away). It's best to just enjoy life with them. Worrying about the "what ifs" seems more like waiting to die than living. I choose living....and your Bird is a lucky one.

I can totally understand your frustration with this question. As you are someone that lives with this 24/7 - you KNOW first hand what it's like. I live with it 24/7 too - just from a different perspective. My daughter has it.

To look at this from a different point of view though - I truly don't think these people that ask this question are doing it to be rude or mean. They simply are curious. I know, though, that its all too easy to become upset about it - anything that harms our kids will bring out the mama bear in us. But I'd think that for the majority of times this question does get asked - the person asking isn't meaning to offend or upset you. They simply do not understand.

Your feelings are real, and I know even I get annoyed with the questions, but deep down, I know the people that are asking them, simply are curious - nothing more - nothing less.

how we REAlly want to respond but don't is
"and will Your child be insensitive and dumb?"

Jamie - I totally know what you mean, and I agree. I think I hate my reaction to the question more than the question itself. It makes me feel so sad and so guilty and endlessly vulnerable, and I don't know how to make that feeling go away. Without a Batman BAM!, that is. ;)

Kerri, a totally relatable great post that left me in tears. I'm a new mom.My baby boy is 4 month old and I have had diabetes for close to 30 years. already I have been asked that question numerous times. Like you, I usually rattle off statistics but that question leaves me thinking and worrying. People who have asked me are pretty close to me and I know they ask because they care, but yet they don't realize just how much time I spend thinking about what could happen. None of us know what could happen don't ask me about something that I have no control over.

My baby is 18yr and I worry about it more and more, the older she gets. Everytime she says, "Mommy, something's wrong with me, my _____ doesn't feel right." my stomach sinks and my heart races. Years ago I set the ground rules that we don't say 'I don't feel good' but we have to be more specific. It has helped me in more ways than one. I know whether I need to get the bandaids instead of the Pepto without asking five questions first.

When people ask me that I so want to say, "Do you really think I've not thought about that already? Oh, and thanks for reminding me that I haven't thought about it in the last hour." However, I usually smile and say something to the extent of it's possible, that's why we watch so closely, and then ask if they have checked their kids. Afterall, I was the first in my family of no T1 history, it can happen without warning.

...and cue the tears...
as moms, there is NOTHING we won't do to keep our kids safe and to even entertain the thought that there are things out there (or inside their bodies) that we can't control or protect them from sucks ass big time.
i would totally testify on your behalf if you want to punch anyone!! :)

Funny...I've been T1 for 20 years and my husband and I have just started trying. Diabetes in my children was never even a thought in my mind. I'm sure it's because my sister is also T1 and has four kids ranging in age from 6 to 14. All of them are perfect, too. Like others have said, if diabetes does crop up in our children, who better to care for them than someone who "gets it"?

my son is T1, and i get asked all the time if my daughters will also get T1, and i feel the same way about the darn question.

so, what is the flavour of ice cream makes your daughter giggle?

Ugh. *hugs* I'm so sorry that someone was so rude and invasive.

Sometimes it seems like people think that if you're open about something (e.g., diabetes, but I think this applies in other areas as well), then it's OK to ask you anything at all. News flash: it's not.

Ugh. I get this question all the time. People are actually surprised when I give them my similar canned answer. "Really? She won't get it automatically?" Yeah, no, f#ck off.

Well stated, Kerri. I wish the world was mandated to read this. People don't mean to be insensitive but still....I was thinking of slapping the questioner much like the ally mcbeal episode! remember those? lOL

Well, it's a reminder, that's why. It's a reminder that life can be cruel and unfair, and that bad things can happen to the people I love. I have to be careful not to think about my loved ones dying -- even though they aren't even sick! -- because the mere thought turns me into a puddle of mush.

I also think the best answer really would be "I don't know." Risks are risks, but they aren't a guarantee of anything. The simple answer to any question about the future is "I don't know."

Or: "Sorry, my crystal ball is on back-order."

I don't think I've been asked if my kids will develop diabetes, or if I have, I don't remember it.

But I agree with the above poster that people are probably just being curious.

You can counter by saying that honestly, no one knows what's in store for anyone's kid, so your family tries not to predict the future in terms of diabetes, or any other chronic illness, car accidents, or whatever. Anyone's kid can develop type 1 (or "insert some negative experience here"), but it's not like most non-D people go around worrying about that possibility. (Or at least they shouldn't).

Enjoy your daughter!

Kerri, another great post and thank you for letting us board the rant mobile!
very therapeutic

Thank you. I needed this today.

Amen! My son is 20 months and you summed it up perfectly.

People are insensitive, and sometimes they just don't think about the ramifications of their questions. I try never to ask people about any health condition they have. If they want to volunteer that information, great. Or if my question is relevant to our conversation, fine. But otherwise, that's personal. I don't like it when people ask me about diabetes. I just don't want to talk about something so personal that I have to think about 24/7.

Hi Kerri,

This is a great post! Thank you for sharing your thoughts and emotions. Its great how you can share with such a wide community and I'm thankful that you are actively participating in promoting diabetes awareness not just during the month of November but every time you update your blog.

I hope all the best for you and your family and I pray that you continue to stay positive and enjoy each blessed moment that has been provided for us.

My son will be a year old on Saturday (yay!). The first thing I asked when he was born is "does he have diabetes"? At his first Drs. appointment I asked, "How was his blood work?" I hated to think that somehow I could give him what I have. I passed on my eyes and my smile but what about my diabetes?

As a mama of a 10 month-old, I'm just now coming off the "Steel Magnolias" comparison thing and entering the phase you are describing. Your posts help me to remember that I'm not alone.

This. Except for me, substitute "Will her brother eventually have it too?" HUGS.

People are so insensitive! People ask me stupid questions too, " So you got it from your mom or your dad?" But that doesn't compare. At all. Stupid People. BAM! What is her favorite color? ;)

Agree completely! My daughter is 13 months and it's so tough.. esp because her dad is a type 2 diabetic! I am neurotic about what she eats.. and my bf's sister, who babysits, doesn't get why I don't want her having all carbs, why I insisted on breast feeding, etc.

this blog post reminds me exactly of the guy from diabetes uncut. he did lots of research because he was so worried about his family with diabetes.
I am the same fearing for my son getting diabetes too like me. great post

I would give anything to take my son's T1, and let him go free.

I've had 4 children. My fears everytime they got sick, lost weight, or anything else that could have been a symptom often left me in fear. Now that they are all over 18 except one - I breathe a little easier. Still, I can deal with this awful disease. Please - don't make me think about it in my precious children!

There was a song, sung during my youth by Connie Francis (or Perry Como) called Que Sera, Sera. What will be, will be. The words were something like this.

When I was just a little girl (or boy!), I asked my mother, what will I be? Will I be handsome, will I be rich? Here's what she said to me: Que sera, sera, whatever will be, will be. The future's not ours to see, que sera, sera.

So, stay in the moment, and enjoy her as she is NOW -- this moment will never come again! And as my father said, non illegitimi carborundum -- don't let the bastards wear you down! Hugs!

That is so annoying. My brother and I both have type 1 diabetes and people can be so dumb sometimes. (I have no idea how my parents stayed sane with both of us having it.) I don't have any kids, but I've had tons of people ask me, "Will you ever be able to have kids?" or "Oh, are your kids going to have diabetes?" It's frustrating. Just because I have D doesn't mean my kids will. I mean, I have 2 non-D parents and my brother and I still got it. If I've learned anything from having D, it's that life is ALWAYS uncertain and people are most ALWAYS dumb!

That question sucks not just for being nosy and ominous, but because the subtext is, "I noticed that you are genetically inferior, and shouldn't you have not passed your genes along?"

UNLESS it's someone who--like me once with a lesbian couple and I still regret it--is trying so hard to show how cool she is with something that she oversteps the boundaries of normal conversation. (I am still cringing--I asked which of them gave birth.) In that case, it's just a well-meaning doofus.

I absolutely get what you feel when people ask this question except for me I am the mum of a t1 child and get asked if his sister will get it too. It's a visceral gut wrenching thought - I pray not, but her chances are apparently 1 in 10 which makes me worry.

I think that parents with diabetes (or other chronic health conditions) are much more watchful of their children's health because they know what to watch for and what risks are there.

I don't have children. But I have nieces and a nephew and I worry at times that my siblings don't realize that they should know the symptoms of T1 diabetes and other autoimmune conditions.

It is interesting how sometimes questions about my diabetes frustrate me more than anything, but at other times the same question opens up a conversation. I don't have kids, but I can only imagine.

Thanks for your honesty and for sharing your feelings, it is helpful to hear.

I have to be honest with you. That line "if it were my husband who had diabetes, her chances would be more elevated" was really, really difficult to read.

I can relate to everything you wrote, but in my case, it is me - the husband - who has diabetes. And while you're not the first one to point out that statistical anomaly (I call it that because I know of no scientific reason why the father is more likely to pass it on, and also because pretending it's not true helps keep me sane), paying attention to it and trying to calculate the odds doesn't do anybody any good. Kind of like the theme of your whole post. Hope for the best, and if it happens, we'll deal with it then.

Amen sister! When people ask me that about ReeRee (also 2 yrs old) getting diabetes, I want to tell them to read Kerri's blog on "the Thought". You sum it up so well.

I worry about "it", alot, everyday, when she super thirsty, when she gets a bad cold (is this the virus that will cause her body to turn against her islet cells).

I want to protect her against the disease I could give her. She has her daddy's eyes, his curly hair, and I hope she has his pancreas;)

For we parents that with Type 1 children, who do not have diabetes themselves, it is difficult. We would trade with our child if we could.

I don't have any children myself (yet). But this is the one question that does scare me..

Even if I think that yes, I was diagnosed early and managed to do ok.. It's still.scary.

Enjoyed reading this post btw, thank you :)

I guess I am a little passive-agressive with my answer to those questions. Wicked smile and "Not really any more likely than YOUR kids are to get it." Let 'em chew on that one for a while.

Thanks for writing this, Kerri. It made me all teary-eyed thinking about that question and my two little "Birdies". You've said it perfectly. Love.

And whenever they are thirsty, lethargic, look tired I think did they get more than just my smile! It's not the question from strangers that upsets me it's the fear itself. Being a healthy type 1 diabetic for 25 years is enough for me to handle its not a handle I want for my kids too.
So out comes the meter as they sleep and every time I hold my breath and hope for a good number. That is all I can do, hope and pray that they will be fine!! Thank you Kerri for giving me a place to read about issues so close to my heart.

I have Type 1. I have a 2 and a half year old and an 8 year old. My 8 year old was diagnosed with Type 1 right before she turned 6. Her baby sister was 4 months at the time. I get this question all the time...especially since both myself and my oldest have it. In fact sometimes I get a surprised look when I tell them my 2 year old doesn't have it. Hate, hate, hate that question!

Great post... as usual, Kerri! I hope you don't mind if I share this for World Diabetes Day. :)

They ask me the same question about my other children. As if we're all just sitting around, waiting, for one/both of them to "get it".

What I want to say is that I haven't ever thought about it. Or that I have no idea what they're talking about. Or that they're speaking a language I can't understand.

But...the fear is there. Somehow, I keep it all walled up. In it's own little closet sitting in the back of my heart.

If we have to go there, we will. Until then, we're doing just fine.

Yes. It's nice to know someone else out there is just as FIERCE when it comes to her daughter!/children! :)

I do not have diabetes. My daughter is 2 and a half with type 1 since 20 months. I love your blog and I read it to relate to how she could be or is going to be feeling in some way. At this age we don't have the best communication base yet so I am literally trying to feel her symptoms myself if that makes sense. Crazy questions about her future health make me want to punch people in the face too. Thanks for all of your great posts. God Bless!

Post a comment

(All comments are moderated. Thanks for your patience!)