Saturday, September 22, 2007


I told Daniel that he had an appointment on Monday to get a flu shot. "Why?" "Because you are in a high-risk group." "What's that?" "You have diabetes. It's a chronic disease. People with chronic diseases need to make sure they are protected from things like flu."

He blinked at me, and with a tinge of teenage angst said, "Geez, I have to get a shot?"

"You're already getting three shots on Monday. What's one more?"

But we all know it's not the shot. It's the label. Diabetes, high risk, chronic.

How did I think of myself as a teenager? Daniel is 14, and I remember thinking when I was 10 or so that 14 was just one step away from adulthood. Of course when I got to 14 and saw how many years I had to go, I was a little grumpy. But now, looking back with mom-perspective, I see that 14 really is one step away from adulthood. Anyone with kids knows how time speeds up as soon as they are born. You blink, and they are in puberty. One blink away from college, moving out, marriage. Yikes!

But 14 -- that's an age that should be fearless. A year of changes, taking on high school ambitions, reshaping your thoughts of the world and your own special place in it. It's an age where suddenly dozens of roads of opportunity appear in your life, and the hardest part is picking a future to explore.

I don't want diabetes or celiac to limit Daniel's roads. I don't want it to cage his thoughts, restrict what he believes his opportunities to be. It is a burden to bear, to be sure. Just an extra backpack to carry on whatever path it is he chooses to take. As we move through this journey and gain knowledge and experience with diabetes & celiac, I work constantly to carry these labels in their proper pockets, rather than building them up as barriers to cross.

I know that someday Daniel will choose a path apart from mine. When that happens, I will send him off with the sturdiest hiking shoes, words of wisdom, care packages, and buckets of love. I will trust that he can take care of himself, while at the same time pray that he finds a life partner to walk with him. I spend a lot of time visiting the diabetes & celiac OCs, gathering knowledge that I pass along, and sharing the burden that our family carries with so many of you, who understand what I'm feeling.

How does that old blessing go?

May the roads rise to meet you.
May the wind be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
The rain fall soft upon your fields
And, until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.


Bernard said...


I came across your blog because of the reference to it on I'll add it to the diabetes search engine.

I've said this before to other parents of children with Type 1. I can't imagine the challenge of taking care of your child with this difficult disease. I think that Irish blessing is a good one to keep in mind.

I was diagnosed at the age of 15, and that was about 35 years ago. I'm saying this because it may give you hope that Daniel will do OK whatever twists and turns his life takes him on.

Right now, diabetes may look (to Daniel especially) as a set of handcuffs. But with the benefit of 35 years, I've seen it as (mostly) a blessing.

As for the flu shot - heck it's just one more jab. Though I still don't like those intramuscular ones!

Shannon said...

You written my thoughts exactly. Yes, diabetes will be a heavy load to carry, but with our support, I hope we can make it a bit lighter.

Naomi said...


thanks for your comment and for adding me to the search engine. I just joined tudiabetes, and find it a wonderful resource.

I read your blog where you asked people who have had diabetes for more than 20 years to tell stories of what it used to be like -- and what sticks in my mind is "sharpening the hypodermics" -- yikes! Friends have commented to me that my son has so many more avenues of hope today than 20, 30, or more years ago. But here you are, showing me that you have done well and will continue to thrive.

I know that in the past 4 1/2 months, Daniel has shown incredible maturity. I don't know if we've skipped all the teenage craziness, but certainly a lot of it disappeared when he was diagnosed -- because we *have* to work together.


You have written to me practically from the first day I started blogging. Thanks for looking for other moms who need help & support. It does make the load lighter!!

Oh, I meant to tell you -- as part of a celebration of the season change to fall, the lead teacher at my yoga studio gave a demonstration in downtown DC where he led many students in 108 sun salutations (a series of yoga moves). Whew! I did 10 and got tired. I have a long way to go! Now... go find that yoga teacher!

Shannon said...

That instructor knows how to party it up, LOL.

I am looking one up this week!