What does independence really mean?
The word independence literally means, “Freedom from outside control or support.” But when we use it to describe a child who lives with type 1 diabetes, the word takes on a much deeper meaning.
I wanted to say, “Children struggle,” but in all honesty, all people struggle to be themselves every day. We are influenced by so many outside pressures that I often wonder if any of us are really being who we are. On any given day I can feel too short, too fat, too old or just not smart enough. I worry that my affections won’t be reciprocated, that I am not being a good parent, husband and son. In the past, my concern about loved ones’ reactions have stopped me from telling them how I truly feel. Yet if you asked me to describe myself and the level of independence that I felt during that time in my life, I would have told you that I was not bothered by what other people thought of me, that I didn’t feel the pressure - but of course I did.
As I sit here and write to you, I realize that I felt all of those things when I was younger and I wasn’t wearing an insulin pump or a continuous glucose monitor. I didn’t have to stop and check my blood glucose all day, people never felt obliged to tell me what to eat and I never once thought that I may pass out from not paying attention to my moment-to-moment health. Young Scott was living a pretty easy life, and yet he still felt the proverbial weight of the world.
So how the heck are we going to teach our children with diabetes to feel independent? I think the answer to that question is, one moment at a time.
I could have written a series of blog posts about helping children with diabetes gain independence through any number of experiences. I believe that people, young and old, have potential and that all they need is patient loving people to surround them with quiet strength and support. Sure, sometimes it feels good to be told that someone has your back, but often it feels better to just know. Then when life happens, alone or together, we have the inner strength to shoulder what’s coming our way. In time, with maturity and practice, we begin to believe in ourselves the way that our loved ones believe in us.
So does technology help to build independence for children with type 1 diabetes? Absolutely it does! Does it do it overnight or over the course of a single year? No. Independence is a form of maturity and the process towards becoming a fully realized person is a long one. That kind of firm base is built one experience at a time and not every step taken is a step in the correct direction. Each blood glucose check in public will build confidence. Every low blood glucose conquered is a step in the right direction. There will be moments that don’t go as planned, but don’t think of them as failures, think of them as perspective for the successes. You can’t appreciate success without knowing failure, at least not to the degree that it requires to build maturity, and none of this can happen if we are being sheltered. I know as well as you do that having a child with type 1 diabetes is different and at times scary. That’s why I added technology to our daily routine; so I could give Arden the personal space that she needs to grow while protecting, as best as the situation allows, her health and safety.
The next-generation Omnipod insulin pump is an advancement in diabetes management technology. To learn more and try a free demo for yourself, click here.