Need help navigating life with diabetes? You can always Ask D’Mine!

Welcome again to our weekly Q&A column, hosted by veteran type 1 and diabetes author Wil Dubois. Today Wil is waxing poetic on what Diabetes and Mother’s Day have in common.

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Stacie, type 1 from Minnesota, writes: Mother’s Day happens to be my Diaversary, so for me anyway, that sorta takes the joy out of the day. Got any words of wisdom to grant me perspective, Wil?


Wil@Ask D’Mine answers: So you got diagnosed with the mutha of all diseases on Mother’s Day? If that weren’t so tragic, it’d be hysterical. I mean, if you think about it, it sounds like the kick-off line for a late-night comic at a diabetes comedy club: Yeah. It’s true, people. I got the mutha of all diseases on Mother’s Day. (Pause for laughter)

But let’s be honest here. Exactly which of the 365 days on the calendar each year would be a good day to get diabetes? National Pie Day? National Pins and Needles Day? National Gone-Ta-Pott Day? World Blood Donor Day?

Seriously, I couldn’t make up these holidays if I tried to.

Still, your diaversary got me thinking about diabetes as a mother. Would she be all bad? Is any mother all bad? I bet even the worst mother in the world did something right, was oddly supportive in some way or another, or pulled off some redeeming victory. With that in mind, let’s look at diabetes as a mother. What kind of mother is she? And does she do, or say, some of the same kinds of things our mothers did?

In no particular order…


Eat your vegetables.

Right. Your mom always had the big picture in mind when it came to diet. Given complete freedom of choice, most children would live on gummy bears and ice cream. Like moms everywhere, Mutha Diabetes makes us think about food in a way that few Americans—beyond the residents of certain counties in California, Oregon, and Vermont—ever do. That’s not to say that we PWDs always eat healthily, even though Mutha Diabetes is always watching (and you thought your mom had eyes in the back of her head), but diabetes increases our awareness of the effect of food on our bodies.


Turn off the TV and go play outside.

If we asked, our moms would say that they wanted us to get exercise and sunshine to grow big and strong, but we all knew that our moms just really wanted a little peace and quiet in the house for an hour or two. Still, Mutha Diabetes teaches us the real value of exercise, and for many of us, if Mutha didn’t tell us to turn off the TV and Just Do It, we probably wouldn’t bother. Hon, can you pass me the remote?


Go clean your room.

Mutha Diabetes is strict about keeping us organized. Where’s your glucose? How much insulin is left in your pen? Are your testing supplies all together? But this is not necessarily a bad thing, and organizational skills are transferable to other aspects of life. Like at work, where being well organized might get you a promotion.


If you don’t get up, you’ll be late to school.

Diabetes sends us off to school with a backpack and lunch pail in a big way. And consider all we learn in D-school! We learn more about our bodies, our anatomy, and our physiology than most people ever do in Biology class. Most non-PWDs only have the vaguest idea of where their pancreas is, and have never even heard of a beta cell. In Math, we master being able to divide by 15 without the aid of a slide rule or calculator. In U.S. Government, we learn about the politics of healthcare. In Economics, we learn about pharma and insurance Robber Barons. In History, we learn that we’re luckier than the generations of PWDs who came, and died, before us.


Be home by dark.

An awareness of time is ingrained into us by Mutha. Timing of medicines is critical. The length of time insulin is active in our bodies is key to corrections and avoiding insulin stacking. But being aware of time, being on time, is good citizenship, too.


Be nice to your ( brother, sister, cousin ).

I think that by having diabetes dangling over our heads—or as a noose around our necks—we PWDs, like many people with serious health conditions, are more aware of the sweetness of life than are people with lesser challenges. My wife, also a PWD, always signs her notes to me, “Love you fiercely.” I like that. But I’ve also come to learn that diabetes makes PWDs love all those around them fiercely. A measure of risk to life fuels an appreciation of its sweetness.


Just wait until your father gets home.

Well, let’s face it: Fear is a strong motivator. I’m not saying it’s a good one, but it sure as hell works. For some of us with diabetes, the fear of being spanked by our diabetes—getting complications—helps us toe the line when it comes to taking our meds, eating smart, and staying active. We know if we’re bad, we’ll be punished!


The worst mom ever, or just anotha Mutha?

So as mothers go, I think Mutha Diabetes is doing OK. Sure, she can be tough at times, but she’s raising us PWDs up into unique, healthy, caring, smart, and empowered adults. And isn’t that the goal of mothers everywhere?

Of course, that said, I’m sure as hell not buying Mutha Diabetes flowers for Mother’s Day. Just sayin’…

Anyway, one last thing, Stacie. I was saddened to hear you say that your diabetes anniversary took the joy out of the day for you. Yeah. I get that. Life would be so much easier without diabetes. But that’s not what happened. So my final words of wisdom are actually from a prayer penned by Reinhold Niebuhr, who famously wrote: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

We cannot change our diagnoses, and while there’s certainly no cause for joy in what happened to us, there is no reason to dwell in the house of sadness, either. I like Niebuhr’s call for serenity around things we cannot change. It trumps acceptance, it creates instead a neutral feeling of peace. A feeling of peace, if mastered, that might leave you open to the joy of other events that coincide with your diagnosis.

Like Mother’s Day, National Pie Day, or National Gone-Ta-Pott Day…


This is not a medical advice column. We are PWDs freely and openly sharing the wisdom of our collected experiences — our been-there-done-that knowledge from the trenches. Bottom Line: You still need the guidance and care of a licensed medical professional.