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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.
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 challengeofdiabetes.com.
Diabetes Health is the essential resource for people living with diabetes- both newly diagnosed and experienced as well as the professionals who care for them. We provide balanced expert news and information on living healthfully with diabetes. Each issue includes cutting-edge editorial coverage of new products, research, treatment options, and meaningful lifestyle issues.