George Simmons is our resident diabetes community "Ninja," meaning he somehow conjures the forces of nature to aid him in his legendary quest for a healthy life. (Ninjas also apparently have some wicked urban abilities you might not know about.) One of George's wicked abilities is being an absolutely amazing father, I am told. Today, we asked George to share how diabetes and being a dad can possibly mix:
A Guest Post by George "Ninjabetic" Simmons
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First I would like to thank Amy for asking me to guest post for DiabetesMine. It is both an honor and a pleasure.
I have had type 1 diabetes for over 20 years and have been a dad for almost 17 of those years.
Back when I first became a dad, I never thought being a dad with diabetes would make parenting any different. Now I think it does.
There is an honest, openness that my wife and I share with our children about diabetes — about the things it does to people's bodies and the ways we can help slow down the process.
We have always talked to our children like we talk to our adult friends. I find that children understand more than we imagine they do and that they can handle stuff when told to them honestly and with care.
My son once asked me if he was going to get diabetes. I told him that it is a possibility but it was not guaranteed.
I asked him if he worried about getting diabetes and he said, "No because I know so much about it that I think I would be okay."
That conversation is one I think about a lot. There was not an ounce of fear or concern. He really felt that if he was dealt that hand, he could handle it.
As much as that made me proud of his confidence and courage it tore me apart. I hate for him to have to think about it, but at least I can take comfort that he has a good attitude about it.
They have also seen the bad.
My daughter has pulled out the glucose tabs on several occasions for me or ran into a market and purchased orange juice to help when my BG is low. My son has stuffed strips into a blood glucose machine while I was lying on the floor after passing out.
I feel horrible that they have seen me at my weakest — but those moments have actually sparked some very important and meaningful conversations about life, family, and being there for one another.
The burden that they carry because of my disease is not a burden they complain about. I am the only one who hates that I cannot contain its effects on my body. They just see it as a part of me. Part of dad. And they love me so much that even though a part of me is broken, that part is still my broken part, and they love it just the same as the rest.
Sometimes I get so sad because I wonder if the disease is going to take me away from my children before we have time to do all we want to do together. I know they think about that too.
We may think about it, but we just take that fear and spin it into a reason to enjoy each other now.
Having diabetes makes everything seem a little more difficult, but not impossible. Just like being a dad is the hardest job, but also the most rewarding. Doing both adds some unique challenges to life, for sure, but I believe with the right frame of mind, you can make the best of it.
Thanks, George. Coming from you, we know that last bit is not just another hollow "chin up" statement, but an actual mission in life!