Arielle and her father, Lawrence, each have type 1 diabetes (T1D). Arielle was diagnosed at age four and a half, her father at 25. With Father’s Day coming up, we invited Arielle and her dad to sit down and chat about life with T1D, and how they’ve been each other’s greatest supporters.
Lawrence, tell us about your diagnosis.
Lawrence: I was diagnosed in 1977. Because no one in my family had T1D, I learned the ropes myself. I went to training classes and I learned how to take care of myself. I met my wife in 1980. She wasn’t knowledgeable about T1D at the start, but she tried to help. Especially after Arielle was diagnosed, she would sit down with me and look at my numbers, make recommendations here and there, say “Why don’t you adjust this and reduce that?”
Arielle, how did your mom help you growing up?
Arielle: When I was younger and in school, they didn’t allow me to check my blood sugar in class, so my mom came up with this buddy system for when I had to go to the school nurse to check. She turned it into the cool thing – different kids in my class would come with me to the nurse, and then the other kids would get jealous and want to go, too. It made it so that having T1D wasn’t weird, it was the popular thing.
Did having a dad with T1D make the transition easier when you were diagnosed?
Arielle: Because my dad had T1D, they caught mine really quickly, and that was a blessing. I don’t remember getting diagnosed, though. I was so young.
Lawrence: I remember. Mommy had a ladies night out every Friday. I was watching you one night and could tell that something wasn’t right. I didn’t want to give you a blood sugar test because I didn’t want to hurt you. The next day, I bought urine testing strips and confirmed that your blood sugar was high. We took you to the doctor, who called the hospital, where you were treated as an emergency patient. I felt very bad for you. I was so upset about it that I didn’t want to deal with it. I felt very guilty. To this day I feel very guilty about it. Mommy did a lot to take care of you because I just couldn’t. I didn’t want to give you a shot.
Arielle: It all kind of felt like a blur. From the start I wanted to give myself my own shots. My mom ended up giving me my [long-acting] NPH, but I gave myself all my Humalog shots. I don’t know if it was because I was just independent because that’s how I am or if it was because I saw my dad doing it.
What have you been able to learn from each other about living with T1D?
Arielle: My dad’s A1c is 5.5. The way he takes care of himself is inspiring. He’s very disciplined. He also taught me how to be independent. T1Ds are super independent already, but seeing how independent he was taught me to be that way. Supporting each other’s independence is a cool thing. He showed me to be confident about having T1D, to not be afraid. I don’t care if I have to test my blood sugar in public. We used to play these games – we had two. The first was that if we saw anyone else check their blood sugar in public, then I would get money. It never happened. We were in New York City, where there had to have been other people with T1D, but people are scared to check their blood sugar in public. It finally happened last weekend – a little girl at the theater checked hers. I didn’t get any money though.
Lawrence: And the other is when we were at a restaurant and we had to check our blood sugar, we would race.
Arielle: I always had the newest meters though, so I think I always won. I was at an advantage. Mine were faster.
Thank you to Arielle and Lawrence for sharing their story, and for being such great examples of how we can be there for one another.
Thank you to our partner Modify Watches for creating their JDRF Collection with great options for Father’s Day gifts – 30 percent of proceeds from each watch are donated to JDRF. Be sure to say thank you to the diabetes supporter in your life by sharing your story on social media with the hashtag #MyGreatestSupporter.