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 it...so 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.