Parenting a child with Type 1 comes with a lot of self-doubt. In this edited excerpt of his new book, The Unofficial Guide to Fatherhood, Dominick Domasky examines what moments in time define him as a D-parent.
As a father of a child with Type 1, I constantly struggle to find the balance between tough love and my child’s smile. I know every slight lapse in strictness regarding my son’s diet affects him negatively, but when his classroom is given cupcakes or the baseball team stops for ice cream, I cave all too often. When I choose my child’s smile, am I a coward or a compassionate dad?
There is an innocence that diabetes takes away and it’s heartbreaking. Before any food goes into my son’s mouth, he endures a finger prick for measuring his body’s glucose levels. Some days those levels are in range and other days, regardless of his parents’ regimen, Cameron’s numbers are off the chart.
When my son was first diagnosed, we stayed at the hospital for four days; tears were the standard, not the exception. I remember my fear the first time the nurse held the insulin syringe between me and my wife and said, “It’s your turn.” My son was only three, and my wife and I had never hurt him before. I was sick to my stomach, but I elected to give that first shot. Somebody had to do it.
It’s been five years since that day. My boy’s fingers are calloused from thousands of pokes. My wife and I still wake up at midnight and 3:00 a.m. every night to test Cameron’s blood sugar levels. We wipe the sleep from our eyes and stagger down the hall. Once we reach the bathroom, we turn on the light and fumble with his supplies. We insert a lancet into his meter and go into my son’s room, quietly in hopes of not waking him. We find the finger that has the smallest evidence of five years of finger pricks and draw a minute drop of blood. It’s tiring in more ways than one.
We have hope, though. My son is healthy, happy, and not defined by a disease. When diabetes first struck, it seemed like our son caught every bug, had every rash, pink eye, allergy. No longer. My son’s getting big and his immune system is getting stronger. Seldom is he ill and sick days are now a rarity. Technology has evolved, too, and Cameron now wears a tubeless insulin pump that is run with a remote control. Today, rather than having mom and dad, nurses, and caregivers give six or more shots a day, he gets one from us every three days when a new pod is put on.
Are we as a family defined by the moment of our child’s diagnosis, or that first traumatic shot of insulin? No. My family is defined by many moments of bravery and fear. We are defined by the times when we laugh, love, share, cry, bond, and grow.
To order The Unofficial Guide to Fatherhood, go to www.motivationchamps.com. You can also order it on Amazon.com at: http://www.amazon.com/Unofficial-Guide-Fatherhood-Dominick-Domasky/dp/1628651806
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