3rd birthday, first full year with diabetes

Today is my son’s 3rd birthday. It is also the first birthday where he’s had diabetes for the full year.

On one hand, I look back at how far we’ve come as a family and know we’re doing great. His birthday last year he was depressed and shell-shocked, and I was petrified to serve him cake. He had been diagnosed just a few weeks earlier and I was still crying every day, reading about the complications he could face.

This year is pretty different. I’m not concerned about the cake, just the presents, our day-to-day routine is pretty, well, routine, and I know it will be a great little family celebration.

But I also feel a little wistful. The memories of our family before diagnosis are fading fast. He will likely have no memory of that time. But our family was definitely more carefree and innocent then. We are stronger, fiercer and grittier now, with a greater sense of shared purpose, but there is a lot less spontaneity and naive happiness. I miss it, even as I recognize the value of what we’re becoming as a family now.


When I see these types of posts I have a hard time expressing what I want to say. I have no worries or concerns with the disease for myself. It feels like nothing. But when I hear about young one just starting out and knowing the challenges and all the things that need to be figured out, it brings tears to my eyes. I wish I could do something.

So I just want to share this. I know the only thing I can possibly do is share.

I was 5. My dad was out of town for work. I had been throwing up for days and couldn’t eat or drink anything anymore. My mom took me to the hospital. They tried to send me back home because they said I just had the flu. My mom is a sweet lady who would never fight or argue, but she insisted there was something seriously wrong and fought like hell just to have me admitted into the hospital. My sister was 7, and she was at home by herself, and my mom kept going back and forth between the hospital and home, checking on me, checking on my sister. My mom is the reason I am alive. That’s what moms do. They protect their babies.

Everything your young one gets will be from you. You shape his perspective. The reason I do what I do now is because my parents never let me realize there was an impact.

Back then, there was no CGM, not even blood tests. We used giant harpoon syringes. I would leave the house in the morning and they’d tell me to be back for dinner. I knew the rules about low or high, and they trusted me with it.

I went scuba driving on a resort trip when I was 12, without my parents. They freaked out a bit, but they let me go. I also did my first solo sailing when I was 12, in a little sailboat in the San Francisco Bay. (I capsized and had to be pulled out of the water). I do not remember what my BG was on those days, but I will never forget what I did.

They kept me safe, but they never bubble wrapped me. That is the best thing they did for me. I did not miss a thing growing up.

I want to tell you, your little one will be fine. Trust me. Protect him, keep him safe, but let him “do”. Worry like a mom, but don’t let him see it. Instead, let him see in your eyes that he has nothing to worry about.


Occasionally, when my wife and I talk about our son (who is 12), our throat goes tight. But it is when I think about kids like your little tike, and families like yours who deal with what these kids have to go through, that I feel true sadness :frowning:

I truly understand this. And share it.

Whenever I feel a bit down, I always think of how much easier it is for us than it was for kids like Eric when he was growing up. Or for the generation before his, for which this diagnosis was not so far from a death sentence. And I also think, with hope, of how technology will make our children’s lives easier and safer as time goes on. I have great hope for the next few years – not for a cure, but for how technology that will greatly relieve the 24x7 burden that our children, and this community, must carry. I feel this is a very realistic expectation.

In this matter, for myself I am leery of looking back always. It brings emotions that I don’t always find healthy for myself, and certainly not for my son. I find that I need to keep some parts of my behavior tightly controlled so that I consciously focus on practical aspects of our daily life and of the future. Some might disagree, I understand. But I have never believed in the gentle, embracing approach to diabetes. Possibly it is a matter of individual personalities – or possibly I have not been at this long enough.


@TiaG @Eric All I can say Tia is that I hope your son grows up to be just like Eric.

And even though I want diagnosed until I was 19 y.o., my mother still tried her darnedest to protect me and never stopped blaming herself for my condition.


@Michel I have NO doubt that both my life and my kid’s life will be much easier in the coming years. Faster-acting insulins, more accurate CGMs, more sophisticated predictive algorithms, improved sensors, etc., will mean that most of daily diabetes care is done on autopilot, with far less invasive care, by the time my son is your son’s age. I bet that in 10 years, the “target blood sugar” levels even for young children will essentially be those of a non-diabetic. And the next frontiers will be curing the disease biologically and identifying new risk factors for complications (other than hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia) and figuring out how to alter those risks. It is almost inconceivable to me that my son will still be “diabetic” in the same sense when he is 82. Unless the whole world falls apart, science will make his life dramatically better, I have no doubt.

People like @Eric had a much rougher coming of age in D-land and yet have found a way to have it shape them positively. That’s something I certainly appreciate. I am beyond grateful our son was diagnosed today and not in 1921, 1951 or even 1991.

Thankfully at this age, he is the one least cognizant of the effects of his diagnosis on family dynamics or life in general. He still gets to do everything he did before (a somewhat limited repertoire given his age), but he doesn’t see all the planning and plotting that goes into it in the background.

But I guess I disagree with you about looking back. I used to be a ridiculously nostalgic and sentimental person, and after early pain I decided on the “look forward, not back model.” Over time I’ve realized that for me, at least, trying to cut off that nostalgia didn’t really keep me from experiencing pain, it just anesthetized me to happier emotions. Studies have confirmed the value of nostalgia. With that comes pain certainly, but also, I think a greater sense of meaning. Of course, that’s just me and I’m a weirdo who doesn’t mind being sad. Obviously I don’t cry in front of my son (well, not about his diabetes anyways, though I am guilty of crying over particularly harrowing kitten videos in front of my kids), and I try not to let my kids see diabetes care make me feel scared, sad or preoccupied. But I think reflecting on the past – even a simpler past we can’t return to – is both painful and good for me. At least sometimes. Everyone is different of course.


Happy birthday to your son! My son’s 3rd was Dec 30th, his Diaversary was Feb 28th. We are SO at the same place as far as memories go…I’m beginning to forget what life was like before diabetes. My goal is to just be as informed and intelligent about diabetes as you are…I am truly amazed by your knowledge to be “fairly new” to the diabetes world. I soak in every morsel I can get from you.

My heart and thoughts are with you and your family! We can do this! We must!

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