In the driving seat

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…

Correcting an adrenalin high with an injection whilst off-road mountain driving a 4×4
Navigating the track’s easier with a twin brother for a co-driver

8 thoughts on “In the driving seat

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  1. Nice metaphor. I’m sorry if I sent you into a frenzy, it definitely wasn’t directed at you 🙂 The pump is fantastic, isn’t it? After a couple of days I feel so much more comfortable with insulin dosing than I did on MDI. You’re a bit further down the pump road than I am, so it’s nice to hear that it is giving you a smoother ride.


    1. Phew! Only joking, but it has been on my mind. I don’t want to do my boy a disservice by making people feel sorry for him. I’m really glad you are enjoying your pump. Three weeks in and we have been getting some beautiful straight lines – we even managed a fairly constant 6.0 through two hours of cricket by using a 60% basal over 4 hours. I saw your tweet about your nighttime numbers. Hope you get that early morning time block sorted. I feel like we’ve been doing brain surgery with a pickaxe up until now!


      1. Tell me about it…it’s hard to be patient but I’m close to nailing it. And if you’re being honest, I don’t think you need to ever worry about being over dramatic.


  2. I’ve never had my blog tagged in another blog post before. I’m chuckling a little bit, because I cannot tell if my article was helpful or if my view concerned you about how to parent a child that has this gauntlet to run. T1D is a paradox. On the one hand, there are days that you truly can feel the drama, the life-threatening-ness that does exist with it; however, on the other hand, there are days that it just feels like second nature and just another thing you do when you eat like saying Grace and bowing your head, just grateful for the meal.

    I write in both modes. Sometimes, my blog posts are laid back. When I am in my PTSD triggered days, I am brutally honest about the monster that hides under my bed, ready to pounce if I allow myself to drift off to sleep instead of be diligent. I am not sure it is possible to be honest about T1D and not talk about the fact that it is a potentially deadly disease. At the same time, it doesn’t mean that we are doomed to a broken life. It is just a harder norm than most people’s norms, and we need people to have our backs sometimes and parents need other eyes on their kids than just their own that they can trust or they will burn out and be facing their own health and mental health problems for taking on the world and feeling like they have to be perfect.

    Thanks for tagging my blog. I appreciate the challenge to my own view. I only know what I witness in the groups I admin on Facebook and my own experience. I have no window inside another diabetic’s (or parent’s) head and what their concerns are without feedback.


    1. Such wise words. I felt your blog gave me some reassurance and permission to talk about the dark side. I once worked with a wise woman who would put out a “vomit bucket” at the beginning of a meeting to get out all the bile, before the constructive talk began. I find it hard in my own mind to analyse where the vomiting ends and the education begins – but like you I write from both perspectives and I think they are both valid. So I was agreeing with you (and Frank’s perspective) and taking succour from what you were saying, whilst being mindful of the two sides of the coin. Thank you for your blog and for your Facebook group. I can’t imagine how I would have responded to this life change without the online community. It’s one of the things (alongside insulin lol) that makes me truly thankful that our family experiences this in a modern society.


      1. It is amazing to be in this time and not 100 years ago when it was a certain death sentence. Whew. I am glad it was helpful, and the group, too. It helps me to exercise my demons, but also to let others know that keeping it all in usually doesn’t accomplish what we hope it will.


    1. Oh we had so much fun. I didn’t get to go on the 4×4 bit as my little girl is too young and I was looking after her (grrrrr) but on that trip we climbed mountains, did rope walks through the trees, took out a boat… Was fantastic.


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