Advocating for Children of Type 1 Diabetes

Beth McNamara Health Guide
  • The mass commercialization of Mother's Day advertises the sweet side of motherhood. Companies like Hallmark, FTD and American Greetings reinforce this perception. Advertisements show smiling mothers gently cradling babies or older moms reminiscing fondly of making cookies with their laughing children. Even the colors depicting the holiday are soft - pastel pinks and purples, baby blue, light yellow, and mint green. No fire engine red or screaming orange here.


    But let's be honest. Motherhood is not all about tenderness. Take a peak into the Animal Kingdom. Think about how an animal reacts when one (or all 100,000) of her babies are threatened. She turns mean. Real mean. Her fangs are bared, razor-sharp claws out, and she's ready to pounce and kill a threat to her child at any provocation. Think of a Mother Hippo, who'll kill even a Bull Hippo if he threatens her baby. Or the little honeybee, who'll go after and sting anything that will come after her hive, even though this action will ultimately cost her her life. A perfect example is this video clip of a mother cougar, relentlessly protecting her cubs against a powerful grizzly.

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    Probably the most revered as the uber-fierce and protective mother is the Mama Bear. Story after story has been told of why you should never get between a Mother Bear and her cubs. If you do, your life could be at stake (70% of deaths caused by grizzly bear attacks are when a mother is defending her young.) 


    A mom of a Type 1 kid acts much like these mothers of the Animal Kingdom. When Type 1 Diabetes and its many pitfalls threaten a mother's baby (no matter how old that baby is - teenagers and adults included!), that mom goes from nurturing and tender to a fierce force to be reckoned with. I applaud all moms of Type 1s and your tireless, ferocious defense of your child from the many threats of Type 1. These threats - and your retaliatory protection -- take on so many shapes and forms.


    There is the ongoing and unflagging monitoring to beat back the physical and very tangible threats of diabetes. The ceaseless watchfulness for BG lows, round the clock and whether you're in the presence of the child or not, which can lead to a reaction at breakneck speed to correct it.  The same goes for BG highs, but our reaction tends to be more slow, but nonetheless fierce. A threat is a threat. Moms watch too for the scary emotional ramifications of diabetes, like depression, and call upon their Mama Bears to beat these down and off their baby.


    Let's not forget the bullheaded advocate role a mom can take on behalf of her Type 1 child. This includes standing up for her kid at school, ensuring the child not only has a 504 plan, but the teaching staff and administration is adhering to the 504 and making sure that the child is getting any support he is entitled to. This advocacy stretches to after school activities like sports teams and clubs. Then there is the need for medical advocacy and standing up for your child and his needs with the many doctors, device and pharma companies and yes, the most threatening of them all: the insurance companies.


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    Being a mom is hard no matter what challenges we face. When our baby is threatened, that only means we naturally will kick it up a notch to protect our precious young. How wonderful is that - we've a chance to be ensconced in shell pink, sweet and tender one minute, and the next we can be bedecked in red, teeth bared and snarling: "Touch my baby and you die!"


    I wish all moms -- and your internal Mama Bear -- a very Happy Mother's Day.


Published On: May 09, 2010