Mark your calendar… Oh. Wait. Never mind. You don’t need to. Most calendars come pre-populated with the fact that tomorrow is Father’s Day. Of course, everyone ever born has a father, and every father is unique and special in his own way. But here in the D-community we recognize that the intersection of diabetes and fatherhood creates unique challenges, whether it’s mixing fatherhood with the rigors of raising children with type 1 diabetes, having diabetes yourself while raising children either with or without diabetes themselves, or being the a father of a child who gets type 1 later in life. We honor all three types of men with the simple label of D-Dad.
Anyone touched by diabetes knows this. But this year, with Father’s Day looming, I got to wondering if the outside world was aware of our D-Dads... of the double burden they carry on their shoulders. So I took a deep breath and dove into the internet.
I entered D-Dads into a search engine and was rewarded with images of Allied troops storming the beaches at Normandy during World War II.
Ah. Typo-glycemia. I’d typed in D-Days. Not D-Dads. My bad.
That corrected, who, or what, do you think was my top hit when searching for D-Dads? Was it a profile of Tom Karlya, author of the long-running DiabetesDad blog? Scholarly research about D-Dad stress? The latest from
Nope. Not even close.
The top hit for D-Dads is a book series by author Joanna Wayne. Really? Yep, but don’t get too excited. The books are western-themed romance novels, part of the Harlequin Intrigue label—where “resourceful, true-to-life women and strong, fearless men fight for survival.”
Well, diabetes does require resourceful women and fearless men, and we’re all fighting for survival I guess, but that’s not where the “D” in D-Dads in this series comes from. No diabetes here. Instead, all are the characters are Daltons. In Hard Ride to Dry Gulch, a haunting beauty with mesmerizing brown eyes is in desperate need of Dallas homicide detective Travis Dalton’s help. In Unrepentant Cowboy, Dallas defense attorney Leif Dalton’s daughter ironically insists on visiting Dry Gulch Ranch (and they say Texas is a big state). Oh, right. And there’s a sexy veterinarian and a serial killer, too. In Midnight Rider, Cannon Dalton, a bull rider who spends his life roaming from rodeo to rodeo has to protect the beautiful female cop and the child who could be his… Well, you get the idea. Plenty of Big-D, and maybe a little bit of “B,” but no diabetes.
But surely, you say, our strong, fearless D-Dads are at the next tier down in the search engine results, right?
Ah… No. Next up is Duran Duran Appreciation Day. Now, I confess to liking this 80’s rock band, but I can’t see spending August 10th listening to their 22 albums, or streaming their video compilations. And while we’re talking about music, DDAD is also an alternative method used for tuning string instruments. Apparently, it’s common in American folk fiddle music.
Clearly, we need some sort of “pink ribbon”-type campaign to raise public awareness of our long-suffering, hard-working, and infinitely inspiring D-Dads, because next in our lineup of not-our-dads, I found that DDAD is the abbreviation for Detroit Diesel Allison Division, a maker of semi-truck engines. Hmmm… what color screams a mix of testosterone with a nurturing and patient nature? But before you put too much brain power into that, be aware that most of the common colors have already been used. According to Wikipedia, cause-related claims have been staked on the following colors (in order of hue): Pink, red, maroon, orange, yellow, lime green, jade green, blue, purple, white, black, teal, paisley, zebra-print, hounds tooth, orange and black, and red-white-and-blue.
To complicate matters, many of these colors are used by multiple causes, making it hard to be aware of what you’re supposed to be aware of. Take the red ribbon, for instance. That’s a color the American Diabetes Association uses a lot. But it’s also been used by at least 35 different awareness campaigns, including the AIDs/HIV folks, the Brain Aneurysm folks, the Burn Victim folks, the Heart Disease folks, the Hemophilia Folks, the High Blood Pressure folks, the Lymphoma folks, the Substance-Abuse awareness folks, and the Wegener’s Granulomatosis folks—an autoimmune, small blood vessel inflammation condition that I confess I was unaware of.
So much for awareness ribbons.
Oh right, and a red ribbon is also used by the Don’t Drink And Drive campaign, which just also happens to be abbreviated DDAD, and is also higher up in my search results than the D-Dads I was looking for. To get awareness, we’re really going to need to fight our way to the top of the heap.
Maybe we should use a tiger-stripe ribbon.
Clearly, our D-Dads are not getting the recognition that they deserve. In fact, I wasn’t finding them at all. And although I regarded it as cheating—at least in terms of my mission to discover if the world outside of diabetes was aware of our D-Dads—I added the word “diabetes” to my D-Dad web search.
Surely, you say, I must have found Bennett’s smiling face that time, right? Well… sorry to disappoint you, but when you combine “dad” with our own big-D you find that the top hit is Diabetic Alert Dogs. Sorry. Apparently, it’s a dog-eat-dog world when it comes to trying to find our D-Dads.
But the whole internet hasn’t gone to the dogs. In the next tier down, I found D.A.D.’s Day, an annual fundraiser for diabetes hosted by the North America’s Building Trades Unions. In this case, DAD stands for Dollars Against Diabetes. Thank you, Union folks!
But clearly, the outside world is unaware of D-Dads. At least as we know them.
And maybe that’s all that matters. That we in the community know them. Recognize their unique struggles, and at least one day a year, pay homage. So happy Father’s Day D-Dads! And for the rest of you: don’t forget to get a little something special for the D-Dad(s) in your life.