|ISPAD/ASPED/Lilly Course in Abu Dhabi|
Last weekend I was honored to speak at the ISPAD/ASPED/Lilly Post Graduate Course in Abu Dhabi focussing on Type 1 Diabetes. Several physicians from the Middle East and North Africa were in attendance, as well as at least one from India. There they presented several cases and shared medical experiences in managing children with Type 1.
My son’s doctor asked me to participate and speak to the group about the “Parent’s Perspective” of raising a child with Type 1. I was flattered of course, but thought about it a long time. This disease can be crazy sometimes. I wanted to put it in perspective, but not be too boring, but yet not say too much.
There is so much that goes on in managing a child with a chronic condition. It really is a 24/7 job. Being a mom is too, but add a medical condition on top of that and the responsibility is exponential and sometimes overwhelming.
Where to begin? Could I do it justice? I have presented about diabetes before, but could I talk about this very personal subject without getting emotional? My previous presentation was about addressing the question of quality in diabetes care. This would be much more personal.
I have no fear of speaking in public. I've done it for many years. However, this is diabetes. After my husband saw the slide where I planned to discuss some of my son's feelings and phrases, he said "Wow. Can you make it through that without crying?" I was not sure, but to do the subject matter justice it had to be discussed. Good endocrinologists are aware of these challenges, and if they are not, they need to be.
I made it through that slide with the things my son says about diabetes. He is pretty well adjusted, but like all Type 1 kids he wishes he wasn't diabetic. The reality that life can be really unfair has hit him all to soon, and yes it is unfair. And yes, I have no answers for him. If I could will this thing leap from his body into mine, I would.
There is not much that can be done clinically to remove these social and psychological factors. You can only deal with them, and continue to advocate and educate. So, I felt it best to close emphasizing the importance of the physician-patient team and managing this thing as it is - chronically, instead of just focussing on one A1C check up. For me this is key in making a difference both clinically and psychologically.
And much to my surprise , I made it through the presentation without crying. Even more surprising, some physicians in the audience cried! I was glad to see they were touched by the challenges outside of the clinical world, but that was not my intention. However, it is a testament to their dedication and passion for what they do.
I feel like I should put a disclaimer after all of this: If you are new to diabetes and reading this, please do not let this scare you. I had 20 minutes to make a point to about 70 doctors so I needed to tap into our most challenging, emotional moments. I promise it does get easier. It will become your norm, and you will still find that being a parent is the most amazing experience ever - even with diabetes.