I was babysitting Saturday night for an adorable four and a half year old, the half is important because she reminded me she was four and a half a half dozen times. We were eating pizza and she noticed me take out my pump to give insulin for my meal.
It was an innocent question. But how do you explain type 1 diabetes and an insulin pump to a four year old? I haven’t spent much time around young kids lately, how much would she actually comprehend?
“This is a machine that gives me medicine.”
“Why do you need medicine?”
“I have something called diabetes. There’s part of my body that doesn’t work anymore, so I need to give myself this medicine.”
She thought about this for awhile.
“Will I need that?”
“Hopefully not. Your body doesn’t need it, everything is working and doing it’s job.”
“My mommy doesn’t have that.”
“Nope. She doesn’t need it either.”
“Do you always have it?”
“Yup, it’s always with me.”
And that was the end of that. She seemed satisfied with my explanation and moved on to trying to teach me how to play chess (with a few questionable new rules).
In that moment I couldn’t help but think about all the four year olds out there whose understanding of type 1 diabetes is so much more complex because unfortunately they’re living with it. I was 12 when I was diagnosed, I never had to experience diabetes at such a young age. Such little people living with such a big, burdensome disease.
I hope the future is filled with way more naive, innocent 4 year olds who will never have to know what it’s like to live with type 1 diabetes.