Show Me the Love

Putting love first helps with I can’t think about my marriage right now. My kid drives me crazy when he forgets to test. Why don’t my friends understand what I am going through? Let Valentine’s Day be a reminder that taking a breath, making eye contact, reaching for the other person’s hand, and asking for what we want is much more fulfilling.

| Feb 9, 2009

Cards, gifts, chocolates, flowers, and romantic gestures. Isn't that what Valentine's Day is supposed to be about? My husband Brian and I had been going on that theory until 2002, when the holiday had the audacity to come around again one month after our son Danny was diagnosed with diabetes. That year, we woke up, wished each other Happy Valentine's Day and started talking about blood sugar levels, carbohydrates, insulin, exercise and pharmacies. We hit those same topics during the day by phone, and although we vaguely planned to go out for dinner, by evening Danny wasn't feeling well, and we spent part of the night on the phone to Children's Hospital. We did remember to kiss goodnight before we collapsed into a restless sleep, but were poised for the alarm to wake us, so we could test Danny's blood sugar levels again at midnight.

Seven years later, the flowers and the romance are back, but the holiday feels different than it did before diabetes. When your child's life is threatened, every moment becomes a lot more precious. An alarming percentage of marriages end sometime after diagnosis, but for those that survive, the parents have grappled with fear, anger, and loss of security and have decided to love each other anyway. Some years, Valentine's Day may not feel carefree or even romantic, but it is an opportunity for gratitude and a celebration of lasting love.

  1. Love today - As the parent of a child with a chronic illness, there are many understandable reasons to put off feeling good. I will feel better when his blood sugar levels come down. If I can just get through this holiday, then I will relax. I'm too tired to enjoy this. The problem, of course, is that chronic is chronic. There are easier and harder times, but the challenges continue. Valentine's Day could be the right time to relax and enjoy yourself despite the details, to love the fact that you and yours are alive and living life together.
  2. Put love first - As a young overwhelmed parent, I clearly remember stamping into a living room strewn with crayons and Legos, growling at my two children "Clean it up now!" and marching back to the kitchen. Then I pulled up short halfway to the sink. Where had the love gone? Did the room have to be clean before I could feel it? I breathed deeply for a few moments and then reversed my course. I sat on the floor, looked them in the eyes, admired their work, and cleaned up with them.
    Putting love first helps with I can't think about my marriage right now. My kid drives me crazy when he forgets to test. Why don't my friends understand what I am going through? Let Valentine's Day be a reminder that taking a breath, making eye contact, reaching for the other person's hand, and asking for what we want is much more fulfilling.
  3. Love yourself - As parents of children with diabetes, we are always short of the gold star. No day of blood sugars is perfect. Your child's life is dependent upon your vigilance, and most likely, you spend a lot of time thinking that you could do better. Maybe Valentine's Day is the day to decide that you are good enough. I forgot to give him his shot, but I know how to avoid that next time. I'm doing the best I can, considering I don't sleep through the night. Maybe taking a walk will help me relax. Without tension, pressure, and guilt, life is a lot easier.

Who knows? Perhaps with these priorities, you might be in the mood for flowers, chocolate and a nice dinner. And even if the holiday trappings aren't for you, maybe you'll be in the mood for love.

These suggestions are drawn from "The Challenge of Childhood Diabetes: Family Strategies for Raising a Healthy Child" by Laura Plunkett and Linda Weltner, a heart-centered book designed to help parents support themselves and their children's overall health and well-being. For additional information, please visit

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Posted by Anonymous on 17 February 2009

Thank you for saying all of that. You live my life...the tiredness...never being good enough and now for my family..2 1/2 years after diagnosis, there is the chance that my son (despite HbA1cs of between 6.2 and 7.3)has early stage kidney problems... And as I await the results, I feel so bad. But your wonderful review of how we all live, has made me feel better because now I feel that I am not alone through all of this.
Thank you again.

Posted by Anonymous on 17 February 2009

Oh come on....I got diabetes when I was 6 (I am now 49) and, although it was a big deal at first, my parents did everything they could to make sure that I lived as normal of a life as possible. By relaxing and taking it all instride, I learned that I was not 'an outsider' and I was basically the same as all of my friends. I hate to see someone (particularly a type-2 adult) acting as if they are someone not to be touched or talked to in a 'normal' manner, and constantly harp on and on about their disesas.
I swear, the best you can do for your child is to treat them as a regular kid who has to do some extra things every day to keep good glucose levels; nothing more than that.
And please, stop stressing out! Yes, you will reach a few bumps in the road, but you will get through them! I am a very healthy, slim, active mom of four who enjoys life for everything it is; not a pariah in a glass cage who must live life (or, a variation of life) and feel differenyly about it all.
Life is meant to be lived at its fullest. Teach your child that principle and live it yourselves.Yes, be careful and cover all of your bases, than go have fun; and, hey, get some sleep!

Posted by Anonymous on 17 February 2009

Yes... this is my life too... 4 years next week.

We all have our good and bad days... lows and highs. Sleepless nights, worry and more worry. But despite it all I still have HOPE!

Posted by Anonymous on 23 February 2009

I hear that things get easier in adult life but in my experience, it isn't easy for parents to care for children with type 1. I admit that I don't find it easy and my son (who has type 1) has said that while he can do what other kids do, he has to work much harder at it (to keep his glucose levels balanced). We are very proud of him for making the school football team and for also being on our town's soccer team, football team, badminton team etc... We think he deserves to know that we recognise that he is great to do so well ESPECIALLY when he has to "work harder at it".

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