Back to Parents' Voices Clare Pattison

Dealing with Reactions

When I was a girl, my mother started teaching me to cook with making hot chocolate. As I was carefully stirring the milk on the stove, she told me what to watch for and that I would know when it was ready. It was supposed to rise in the saucepan. Well, I didn't know if I would be able to tell when it had risen up enough so I kept my eyes glued to the milk as I stirred. I was a nervous wreck worrying that I would miss it. As anyone who has ever heated milk on a stove knows, boiling milk isn't something anyone can miss. Sure enough, there it was frothing and bubbling and rising out of the pan so fast that it came right over the top and all over the stove before I could even lift it off. The next time I made hot chocolate, I knew what to watch for, and was able to catch the milk just BEFORE it boiled over. And, I never worried about it again.

Then I became a mother, and the diabetes education team started teaching me to deal with insulin reactions in my child. They told me all the causes and symptoms to watch for, and said that I would know when it happened. Well, I didn't know if I would be able to tell. I slept with one ear open. I tested her day and night in case I missed it. I never left her with anyone else. I treated her like an unexploded bomb. Just like so many years ago waiting for the milk to boil, I was a nervous wreck. Then one day, it happened. It only took a few minutes to realize what was going on, and I just did exactly what I had been taught. "So that's a reaction." We all lived through it quite well, and from then on, we were so much more relaxed. We knew what it looked like. We knew what to watch for, and usually were able to catch it just before it happened. I can't say I never worried again, but I sure was able to relax knowing that it wasn't a catastrophe, and that we could handle it.

Our eight-year-old daughter had several insulin reactions in her first year with diabetes. Because of this, people really treated her differently than they had before her diagnosis. She wasn't invited to birthday parties or to sleep-overs, and other parents were even hesitant to have her playing in their yards. It was really hard on her to have to deal with the diabetes and lose her friends at the same time.

In order to avoid reactions, she became very in tune with how she was feeling and always told us or her teacher when she was feeling "low". Because people could see that she could handle herself quite well, they started to forget about her diabetes and treat her more normally. The development of a sense of responsibility along with organizational skills in our child are very positive side affects of living with diabetes.

Also, having known what it is like to be treated differently, she has become much more accepting and empathetic towards people with disabilities. If having diabetes makes her a more sensitive and caring person, that is a good thing too.

We have experienced only a few reactions in the five years our son has had diabetes, most of them during the night. We always just do what we have been taught, and get through them okay, even if they are a bit nerve wracking at the time. We take a lot of comfort, however, knowing that our son does not ever remember what happened, or suffer any ill effects from them at all. It is just like a little glitch in the system that lasts for only a very short time, then is gone. It is definitely harder on us than on him!!

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Last Updated: Wednesday March 16, 2005 16:44:52
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