& Sons Write On Diabetes
families struggling with a child's chronic illness, managing the
physical practicalities and emotional turbulence can be a challenge.
Initially overwhelmed by the sheer shock of the diagnosis, it
is all too easy for youngsters and their parents to dwell on the
dangers and difficulties of their condition.
In these two volumes - one written by two brothers, now young
men who were each diagnosed with childhood diabetes while still
in elementary school, and one written by their mother– the
emphasis is placed on the positive. While neither downplays the
serious medical issues that diabetes poses, rather than focusing
on the limitations that diabetes could potentially present to
children and teenagers, these slim volumes offer practical information
to help families manage the disease, instead of being managed
As Mrs. Loy writes, "We like to focus on what can go right
with diabetes." Both books are engaging, with a breezy tone
that strongly communicates to the reader that the authors understand
fully the realities of living with diabetes without terrifying
a newly-diagnosed youngster or his parents. Perhaps it helped
Spike and Bo that, by being diagnosed at the ages of seven and
six respectively, living with diabetes was simply the normal backdrop
of their lives. ItĚs as if someone with blond hair and freckles
accepts without question the need for a sun hat and sun block
to venture outside, or someone who is quite tall knows that he
has to duck for doorsills. Neither of these books dwells on self-pity,
nor on any kind of existential angst about being stricken with
The boys' book covers everything from participating in sports,
attending teenage parties, traveling, hiking and camping, to how
to make the proctors during SATs and Advanced Placement exams
understand why a diabetic student needs frequent snack breaks.
Unlike earlier generations, perhaps, where a diabetic would have
kept his condition to himself, the Loys are strong advocates of
telling everyone they know about their disease. The reason? A
fairly important one, as the more friends and classmates who know
about what happens to a diabetic whose sugar levels are falling
or rising, the better the chances that someone can offer life-saving
Many of the suggestions have to do with food: the kinds of meals
and snacks diabetic children and teenagers need to have during
the course of a normal day, and how to make modifications if they're
participating in vigorous exercise or other events. Just as important,
and practical, is their check list for what children should carry
in their cooler–foods, snacks, and drinks like Gatorade–
and medication bag, and the kinds of equipment needed in what
they call the 'diabetic drawer' in their household.
Other recommendations are just as useful, like wearing a medical
identification tag and a diabetes identification tag, so that
a local pharmacist could help a diabetic in crisis without the
need for a prescription. Or, when looking at potential college
campuses, discussing with the school's office of disabled students'
services how that particular school makes accommodations for diabetic
students in terms of having 24-hour food available or allowing
for food during an examination.
Similarly, Virginia Loy's guide, geared for the parents of diabetic
children and teenagers provides ample lists for stocking the family
kitchen, including what to take on road trips (even for something
as small as an away-soccer match). Mrs. Loy also offers practical
strategies for explaining a child's medical condition to the people
who need to know about it–the school nurse, the bus driver
and monitor, classroom teacher, and even substitute teachers.
To her credit, Mrs. Loy does not shy away from confronting the
issues that all protective parents have to deal with when their
once-biddable and obedient young children are transformed into
independent-minded pre-teens and teenagers. She doesn't pretend
that teenagers don't eat fast food, or possibly drink at parties;
what she does is give guidelines that parents can use with both
their own children, and their offspring's friends, to be sure
that in the balancing act between independence and protection,
a diabetic won't come to harm.
And Mrs. Loy, in a section clearly labeled for parents only, confronts
head-on the fears that parents of diabetics live with: that their
beloved children may go blind from the disease, that dating may
be difficult or that future grandchildren may be afflicted with
These books would be a valuable addition, if not to a classroom
teacher's library, then at least to a school library as a resource
for children, teachers and other staff alike.#
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