Someone described my son as the kid with diabetes. And it hurt. I knew it was going to happen one day. I didn’t know where or when it was going to take place, but I knew it was inevitable. Even knowing that it was going to happen one day, hearing it still took my breathe away, even if it was just for a second.
My son has had Type 1 diabetes for over 5 years. He was diagnosed at age 4 and he is now almost 10. In the earlier years of his diagnosis he was a little guy. A preschooler. A kindergartner. A baby for all intensive purposes. He rarely left my side for places other then school. I was in charge of everything that had to do with my son and his diabetes. I trained his school to not call him a diabetic. I forced them to see him as everything else that he was other than the kid with diabetes. It worked. Now as a 4th grader they see my son for WHO he is and not WHAT he has. Funny. Smart. Cool. Intelligent.
Now 5 years in, my son’s world is much bigger than the two of us. There are friends. There are friends of friends. Connections are being made. Who knows who from MMA (karate), who knows who from religious education classes, who knows who from wherever. “Oh, I know him,” they said, “he’s the boy with diabetes.” The. Boy. With. Diabetes.
There was no change in tone to their voice, there was no connotation or stress put on diabetes. None. There was no whisper when the word diabetes was said. Nothing. It was just a simple statement, a statement that made it easier to describe who my son was. Brown eyes didn’t cut it. Long hair wasn’t enough. The fact that he has a long Italian first name still didn’t pinpoint who he might be. Diabetes did it. Yes, it was diabetes that clarified exactly who my son was to this inquiring young mind.
And in the end, that’s okay.
There are worse ways to be described.
It would take my breath away a whole lot longer than a second if he was described as the boy who cheats. Or the boy who was rude. Or the boy who is disrespectful.
It would hurt my heart if someone knew him as the boy who didn’t hug his mom. Or the grandson that didn’t love his Papa.
Diabetes is just a piece of his whole being. It does not define him. Use it to describe him or don’t use it to describe him.
And in the end, that’s okay too.