A couple of weeks ago, I met a young child with diabetes. This was one cute kid who was clearly going to be boss of the world when she grew up. And a zoo keeper. I know this because she told me as much.
She has lived with type 1 diabetes for over half her life – she told me that too. And she also told me that now, as a big grade one kid, there were things that she was doing to take care of her diabetes on her own.
‘Want me to show you?’ She asked me.
‘You bet!’ I said
She checked her BGL for me, talking me through it. ‘I use this to get the blood out of my finger. And then the blood goes here. Did you hear that beep? And here is the number. It says 8. That means I don’t need to do anything right now.’
Then she went off on a tangent and counted to 125 for me, which I told her was very impressive.
She showed me her pump and was very excited when I showed her mine, although disappointed that mine was boring and charcoal while hers was covered in a bright pink skin. ‘You should buy one for your pump. Your pump is not very interesting. It would be much nicer if you looked at something bright instead of boring. And more fashionable.’ I think she tut-tutted me as she shook her head at my lack of inventiveness when it came to pump decoration.
I won back some points when I showed her the bright purse I keep my meter in. ‘I guess that’s nice,’ she told me, and then found something else to show me.
‘I eat these lollies sometimes when I am low. My teacher has a big jar of them in the cupboard in the classroom. She has to keep them on the top shelf because I caught Matty eating them one day. He got in trouble, but it’s not his fault that he doesn’t know that I need them when I go low. Where do you keep your lollies?’
I told her that I have them in my bag, usually. And on my bedside table. ‘In a jar with a blue lid’, I explained, suddenly desperate to win some cred with this kid!
She nodded and seemed to approve of this answer. ‘Blue is okay,’ she announced.
‘Do you know that I am going to be a zoo keeper when I grow up?’ She asked me.
‘That sounds like a great idea and a very cool job,’ I said, and I told her that I have always wanted a pet tiger.
‘You can’t have a pet tiger,’ she said, sternly. ‘They are not good pets. You should know that.’
I told her she was right.
‘If I’m not a zoo keeper, I might be a doctor. I’ll help kids with diabetes. That would be good too.’
‘Sure,’ I said. ‘Maybe you might find a cure for diabetes.’
She looked at me with what I can only describe as the sassiest look I have ever seen.
She shook her head. And spoke to me very slowly, like I was a bit simple, staring at me straight in the eye.
‘Why does everyone think that a cure is the best thing? As long as I can be a zoo keeper, I don’t care about having diabetes. Tigers don’t care if I have diabetes.’
This kid? She is 6 years old. And she has it together more than most adults I know.