We've heard it a thousand times and yesterday yet another well meaning pediatrician said it to me. As usual I just smiled, but this is what I wanted to say...
Growing up with diabetes does not make a child blind to the world around them. It does not make needles hurt them less, or make them any happier about the endless pokes that come with type 1 D. It does not make the dream of carefree eating less appealing or make them want to skip dessert while everyone else indulges. It does not make hypoglycemia feel less scary. It does not make them less self conscious about having to stop, test and drink a juice on the playground or in the middle of class. It most definitely does not keep them from wondering why other kids don't have to deal with any of this.... They KNOW the difference.
Getting diabetes as a very young child does not have an upside, if you don't believe me ask an experienced pediatric endocrinologist. It puts you at much greater risk for every bad thing that diabetes has to offer, both physically and emotionally. It is extremely hard on the child, the caregiver and the entire family. The only silver lining is that you can't remember anything about your child being normal and healthy and neither can they.
Today is the 1,735th day that I have poked needles into my little girl. Some days she allows it with little protest, because she knows she has no choice, but today like so many days, she is sick and tired of being a pin cushion. Having thousands of pokes behind her does not make todays array of pokes and blood sugar swings any happier for her.
...and if you've heard the commercials that say there's a new meter that "eliminates the need for painful finger-stick testing," know that it only means you can now poke the same needle, much deeper, into your forearm to draw blood... which is not as accurate, not advised for children and as far as I'm concerned equally painful.
In those same 1,735 days she has had 600 infusion sets inserted into her back side. These feel similar to a bee sting going in, but are usually OK after a minute or two. They allow insulin to be infused continuously 24 hours a day, but they must be changed out every 72 hours. One upside is that she doesn't have to get an injection every time she eats... something she hates even more than these... even after 4.5 years.
She's had at least 1,000 injections of insulin, both Novalog and Lantus. Something she is trying to adjust to again, since we've had to add Lantus back into our daily routine. Lantus stings going in, even if the needle is small. She hates injections and she most certainly knows that not getting an injection feels better than getting an injection. She also knows that you are not getting and injection and she'd like to know why.
To help keep her safer and cut back on testing we started using a continuous glucose sensor (CGMS) about 3 years ago. It gives us a blood sugar reading on her insulin pump and alarms when she's dropping too low or spiking too high. It's a great tool, but the sensor itself is about an inch long and is inserted with the large needle pictured below. We do this every 5-7 days, adding up to about 200 sensor insertions so far. Do I even have to tell you what she thinks of that?