Thursday, August 9, 2012


"No, no, Sweetie," said Hubster, trying to remove a glass vial from her hands.

"That's Mommy's..." [a glance at me] "medicine?"

"Insulin," I answered, taking the bottle.

It was an empty one that I had left on the bathroom counter. I had planned to add it to my stash of 20+ bottles I'm saving for my Diabetes Art Day project next month.

I know that other moms with diabetes describe the paraphernalia differently to their wee ones. We make this up as we go, so no disrespect. But medicine is a word I just can't get behind for it.

Why? It's just semantics, right?

Well, yes and no.

My kids will use lots of medicine in their lifetimes. Motrin, antibiotics, Benadryl, creams, ointments. They will use these drugs to get well. To heal. They will use these for a short duration and monitored always by a watchful parent.

But they will see me drink juice for purposes other than breakfast. They will see me eat cookies that Mommy can't share right now. They will see me eat chalky glucose tablets made of sugar. They will see me dose insulin. Mommy will be bionic - with tubing, pumps, sensors, transmitters, meters, etc. These are not items they will need themselves (hopefully), but they will interface with these items.

Children aren't born knowing what medicine is. If I call all of this paraphernalia medicine, I teach them that juice is sometimes medicine and it's sometimes a drink - what's to stop them from thinking the same about cough syrup? I teach them that Mommy's insulin medicine isn't something she ever gets to stop taking - so does that mean that their pancreases make medicine that's inside them? Does that mean all medicine is forever? No, insulin's a hormone. It's just insulin.

It's one of my many jobs as Mommy to define language for them. Insulin and pumps and glucose tabs and other words never heard by other children will be staples in our house. For the long haul.

There's no reason not to teach them the words of my daily life just as I teach toothbrush, seatbelt, and shoes. These are words that will be far more ubiquitous in our household than cow and octopus, after all.

Sweetie brings me the glucose tabs and asks for tutose.

"No baby, that's Mommy's glucose and she needs that for low blood sugars. Let's go get you a snack. Do you want some juice? We can both have some juice."


  1. I like this...a lot. Although injected insulin is not in my life, I've never felt comfortable calling it medicine. When I was raising my 4 children I always tried to call things by their name. It makes things much easier as they grow up and begin to put things together for themselves. Way to go, mom!

  2. This is an excellent way to talk about diabetes. My oldest watched me test while I was pregnant with the youngest. I want to be able to talk to them about my mom, their grandma. I want them to be able to identify Grandma's insulin and her glucose tablets.

  3. Yes, you totally rock, Melissa!

  4. Same here :-) We call things what they are and I explain why now. We joke around that at preschool he will wonder what is wrong will all the mothers that DON'T have insulin pumps.

  5. Love this. L might be just 12 months old, but I'm already saying "Don't pull on Mama's pump!" and "That's Mom's Dexcom, not a toy - should we go find a toy for you?" I wasn't comfortable saying "medicine," and it's weirdly reassuring to know I'm not the only one.

  6. I'm on the "medicine" bandwagon for my discussions with Birdy, but as she gets older, our discussions progress into more specific descriptions, and this works for us. She now knows what a Dexcom is, and that I wear a pump with insulin in it, but that's after lots of off-handed discussions that have finally started to stick. :) (She sure as hell knows who Thomas is. And Mickey Mouse.)