Explaining an Insulin Pump to My Kids


Last week, after returning from my appointment at the diabetes clinic I picked Tom and Guy up from school and took them out to lunch at a nearby cafe.  I was in a good mood after my visit to the clinic and was happy to spend some time with my boys.

As we sat down I took my glucometer out of my bag and checked my blood sugar. Then I wrote the result down on one of the pages given to me at the clinic. Guy asked me why I was writing it down.

I hadn’t planned on talking to them about the pump that afternoon but since Guy had opened the door, I decided to take advantage of it and explain the whole pump thing to them.

I asked them if they knew what an insulin pump was.

“Isn’t that the thing you showed me a picture of that helps you take insulin?” Guy said.

“Yes,” I said and went on to explain that it was a small device that is attached to you and instead of taking a few shots of insulin every day it gives you insulin all the time. I uploaded a picture of a pump on my iphone and explained how it worked. I told them that it was just another way of taking the same medicine and that I wanted to try hoping it may be more comfortable.

“So you won’t need to stick yourself so many times, right?” Tom said.

“Exactly” I said.

“That sounds better. Do you still need to check your blood sugar or does it do that, too?”  Tom asked.

I explained that the insulin pump didn’t do that but that there was a device called a continuous glucose monitor that did and that at this time I wouldn’t be getting one of those. Tom was a little disappointed.

From there the conversation went to genetics after Tom asked me about “diabetes that affected entire families.”  I think he was referring to type 2 diabetes. I tried to explain the idea of genetic factors and how some people had a predisposition to get certain diseases but that there were other factors, too. I understood that the real question was about his chance of getting diabetes.

I didn’t lie. I told them that there are families with siblings and parents and children who have type 1 diabetes, but that there are many families where only one member has diabetes (like mine). Yes there is a chance, but it isn’t for sure at all.  And whether or not a person gets diabetes is not something we can control, so it’s best not to worry about it.

Both Tom and Guy seemed okay with that answer.

The next morning while they were eating breakfast Guy asked, “So did you get that insulin thing yet? Can I see it?”

”No, it’s going to take a while,” I said.  “But I’ll show it to you when I get it.”

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Catherine Price
11 years ago

@Elie – I think it’s a complicated question which I don’t mind trying to answer. I am in better shape than most of the other dads. I run marathons and am very active so I think they consider me a  physically fit father. On the other hand they have witnessed me low a few times and once Tom was with me when I was very low and I know it scared him. So I guess it’s not so simple. They know at some level that I’m not healthy but they also consider me strong. I’m hope that kind of makes… Read more »

11 years ago

Wow. It sounds like you have a great relationship with your kids. Can I ask you a somewhat personal question..? Have you been concerned that your kids might not see as you as the strong father you are? Or do you think they’re mature enough to understand that having diabetes has made you a stronger individual than you would otherwise be? Again, sorry if that is too personal a question.

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