I’ve had something on my mind, and some #dblogweek posts have got me thinking about it more. By writing openly about the traumatic side of Type 1 diabetes, am I unwittingly casting my son in a Tiny Tim role? Is the trauma about me or him? Will the adult him thank me for raising awareness or curse me for exposing his frailty as he tries to succeed in the world?
Reading Frank’s blog this week sent me into a frenzy of proofreading to eliminate over-dramatic language. Then Typecasted Diabetes reassured me that it’s “ok to be honest.” By its nature, this blog only offers one perspective on our lives, which are full, fun and at times frustrating for reasons quite apart from T1D, but where should I draw the line?
Driving up the windy, narrow backroad to my son’s school to drop off his forgotten packed lunch (87g carb, square wave over 30 minutes please), it became clear. Managing Type 1 diabetes is like driving a car.
Every time you drive your car, it’s potentially life-threatening. You need to watch the speed, the fuel gauge, the terrain, other road users. And still unexpected potholes or leaping deer could cause unavoidable damage. As an adult, I rarely think that if I get into my car I could die, even though this would be the inevitable consequence of losing concentration. But if your child were to get behind the wheel, to career along at 90 mph in a Caterham kit car, your focus would inevitably be on the risks. You’d be shouting “stop, stop, get out, make it stop!”
The metaphor extends further. Adults with Type 1 can go about their normal lives, they can achieve to their full capability, so long as they have mastered the art of driving their particular T1D vehicle, so long as they have their annual MOT. I strongly believe they deserve every credit for this in the same way my son does. Could you do 100 multiplication and division sums with 100% accuracy in three minutes or sing a psalm in Latin with near perfect pitch whilst off-road driving? That’s what he does every day.
We’re lucky. We now have a sat nav and automatic transmission in the form of our continuous glucose monitor and insulin pump. The CGM is a tool to help guide us through the mountainous terrain of the body’s fluctuating insulin requirements. The pump responds to our instructions whilst avoiding the clutch/gearstick clunkiness of multiple daily injections. Yet they are no substitute for constant vigilance.
However we’re still learners, not quite qualified for our P-plates.
So if you see my boy skidding past, top down, singing “sed et si ambulavero in valle mortis non timebo malum quoniam” and dividing 144 by 12, watch out for him. Give him a clap. Make sure he doesn’t crash…