Thursday, November 11, 2010

My son J: the 80 year old overweight woman.

J had is ophthalmology appointment yesterday. They took a picture of the back of his eye to make sure his eyes are healthy and strong.

That is what I told him anyway.

But J is older now, and he wanted to know exactly why he was there. He asked the nurse who was taking the photos, and she happily gave him this brochure that would explain "EVERYTHING."

J took the pamphlet and looked at the front pictures. This is what he saw.

He studied it for a minute and then looked up and gave me a raised eyebrow, "are you kidding me? This isn't for real, right?" kinda' look.

I told him people with diabetes have to keep close tabs on their eyes. If they do they are rewarded because most complications can be fixed up no problem at all. The problems usually come to those who wait until it is too late to fix something.

Then the nurse chimed in...

"Yes, if the doctor sees any problems he will talk to you about your diabetes and change your diet and exercise regime to make your diabetes more stable."

J and I were gobsmacked.

J made a fast break for the door, I followed. I wanted to yell at her. I wanted to educate, but J's cue told me...He wanted out of there...and NOW.

So I turned to her and said..."J is the most stable kid I know."

And we walked out. So what if I was talking about the mental aspect and not the diabetes aspect. I didn't have it in me, and J wasn't having any of we left.

While in the car, J flipped through the pamphlet.

I told him they gave him the wrong one. This one was meant for Type 2 Diabetics. (A little fib, but I could see the look of dismay on his face as he was eyeing the pages.)

"So you have to be an overweight woman or a grandparent to be a type 2 Diabetic?" J asked.

"No." I said.

"Well according to this you do."

He held up the pages for me to see. He pointed to these pictures.

"It is going to always be like this J. The world just doesn't understand Type 1. We have to educate, or they will never know."

"I guess I should have said something to the nurse." J said. "But I felt really uncomfortable. I just wanted to go home."

"That is OK. I'll try to take care of the adults. You educate your friends. We'll do the best we can."

So then J goes on to tell me that kids at school often think his pump is his cell phone. And that the tubing is some fancy device to make sure he doesn't lose his phone. When I asked him what his reply is, he told me he tells them it is his insulin pump. Apparently almost every kid says, "Oh, you have diabetes! Cool." J said it seems like everyone at his school knows what Type 1 Diabetes is.

Music to a mama's ears.

Maybe...just MAYBE...this next generation will be more empathetic. Maybe J and his brothers will grow up in a world where Type 1 Diabetes isn't such a mystery. Maybe the education is working! Maybe these young people today won't grow up to be as ignorant as the nurse was yesterday.

Maybe there is hope for global understanding yet.


  1. Great post. Good job taking advantage of the opportunity to open lines of communication with your boy.

    Keep up the good work. One day, one person, one myth at a time...

  2. Meri, first I felt sad for J, then I felt proud. He is so wise!!! I think he should contact the "pamphlet makers" and let them know that they need another pamphlet for Type 1!!

    Ally tells me that she is "tired of explaining that her pump is not a cell phone!" I love your approach and the way that you explained to J that if she educates her friends more people will understand about Type 1. Thank you again, for sharing your magnificence!

  3. im sorry but i wanted to take Js hand and smack that nurse with it. How ignorant! Awesome post and what a great kid you have! All of em!

  4. As a Momma I want the address of that Dr.'s office so I can have a little 'sit-down-smack-down' with that nurse. Really?

    As an advocate, I want to tell her all about talking to kids with diabetes and send her to Miss Manners Bedside Manner School.

    If I were J's friend, I would be thankful to have such a cool kid to hang out with.

    I guess we need to get to work on those pamphlets!

  5. O.M.G.I.CAN'T.EVEN. You handled it with so much grace and I am also hopeful that through our children and others the next generation will be more educated about diabetes. Sheesh!

  6. What is concerning is that the manufacturer of the pamphlets is perpetuating the myths and stereotypes of "d"...even for type 2's they aren't all 80 and FAT. Ridiculous. I am so sad that you guys ran into this, but know this is how it is and this is why I write.

    Meri, you handled this fabulously. And J is a ROCK STAR. I am glad that you did have this opportunity to discuss this situation with him. He will be all the more prepared to handle it in the future when it happens again...b/c we all know we are far from the stereotypes and misinformation ending. Baby Steps. Baby Steps.


  7. How awesome is J? I guess he takes after his Mom!

  8. Good on J for having the character to just leave and to own this situation. I actually laughed at the pictures. Where are they from 1982? Just unbelievable. Lets make our own! I might get Frank on board for some homemmade leaflets about D. Maybe J could do some too?

  9. See we just would have laughed at the lady, probably just as inapproprate as her response...but we just can't help it. And I always start my education with "Awe let me explain some things to you...." yet again, probably inappropriate...

    I hope you called the doctor back and had a "word". If not, maybe you could write a note with a little education attached? Don't let that nurse do that again to someone else.

    And your son is awesome. Wonderful that he stood up for himself in his own way. WOOT!!

  10. I hope MY J ends up being as cool as YOUR J!!! =)

  11. Meri~ You have one bright little boy there! :) You handled it so well...much better than I would have! I agree with letting him contact the pamphlet people. Some of these doc offices have info that so out of date...INCLUDING the damn nurses!! Way to go J for being an amazing kid :) Way to go Mom for having the restraint to not blast that nurse and give her a piece of your mind...LOL! (((HUGS)))

  12. Oh what a great boy J is!!! And you are utterly fantastical too my dear Meri!

  13. sadly I think this is what keeps a lot of type 1's from being up on their care of things like their eyes. We've lucked out and found an eye doc whom has t1d himself, is totally fit, young and no lame arse pamphlets in his office!
    I think it helps in school that the insulin pump is the norm now for treatment, it use to be that shots were given in an office or at home and nobody really knew too much about it. I think we need to pat everybody on the back that we know that helped fight for in class testing, research and funding for pumps and just overall have advocated for all these little things that have made diabetes a little bit of a mysterious thing that is taken care of "somewhere else".
    ((Hugs)) to you and J for being so calm through it all...I'm amazed at how you did it, I'm still a bit of a hot head and hope that I calm down a bit about it before Isaac's J's age.

  14. OMG - you handled it like the rock star mom that you are. I would have been so dumbfounded I probably wold have not been able to come up with such wise words.

    You and J are awesome!!

  15. J is wise beyond his years and you YOU friend are an amazing mom. I love the conversation you had with him about you taking care of educating the adults and him educating his friends. Solid teamwork.

  16. I literally LOLed at the thought of a mother making her son attach a cell phone to his body with tubing!!!
    I get the best laughs from the minds of kids. :D

  17. You are a much better woman than me!! I would have gone off, I'm sure!


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