Shots and Insulin
I like The shots.
And I like The insulin.
It goes in My body And makes me Feel well.
When I Got Diabetes
When I knew What I had – Diabetes – I was sad.
I keep my diabetes stuff In the nurse’s office. I have to check my sugar Before I eat, and when It goes up or down.
The shot’s point is thin and short.
After I eat, I have to take My insulin.
At night, I have to take my latins.
You can’t eat that much sugar. And when you shoot your finger With the needle, it hurts When you put it in the same spot.
immediate and extended family; daycare providers; school; friends; coaches and team members; church communities; employers. To this end, the Eskind Child’s Diabetes Clinic includes not only medical personnel (physicians, nurse practioners and nurse educators), but also social workers, psychologists, nutritionists, child life specialists, and, most recently, a poet.
admiration for the sibling’s bravery in facing so many needles and visits to the doctor. The discerning reader will also see in some of the poems the child’s anger or sadness that has come along with diagnosis and the growing realization of how profound is the impact that diabetes will have on his or her entire life.
In the normal course of human development, we move slowly from the innocence of childhood into the experience of adulthood. Chronic illness like diabetes, however, truncates childhood. Children with diabetes must adopt numerous “grown-up” behaviors long before would have been necessary in the normal course of time. Good diabetes care requires that even very young children become acutely aware of how they are physically feeling; learn how to communicate that to adults; keep in mind the hours of the day and how much time has passed since last eating or checking blood levels; pay attention to personal organization by keeping their diabetes kit with them at all times; and learn how to administer self-care. It can be stressful and confusing for even the most mature and unflappable child.
Many of the parents wept as I read their child’s poem to the group at large after the workshop. Anyone who works with pediatric patients knows how hard parents struggle to maintain a cheerful attitude on behalf of their sick children. I interpreted the tears of these parents as a painful acknowledgement that their child was beginning to take on not just the burden of diabetes, but the individual responsibility for taking care of it. To these parents, I would like to reassure you. However sad it is to read the poems, the expression and exploration of these very normal emotions is an important step towards psychological health for your child. Many studies have demonstrated the efficacious results of offering psychosocial support to young patients through creative writing and other types of arts therapy. I have included a brief bibliography at the back of this volume for further reading on this topic. I hope it will reassure you.
I asked the recently-diagnosed children in the workshops to write something about how they “felt about having diabetes.” I gave them a few models, reassured them that this was not school work and that there were no rules to follow or break. On the board I had written a list of diabetes vocabulary (blood, insulin, pancreas, stick, carbs, etc.), and some tips on how to begin. Without exception, regardless of age or inclination, each child wrote a poem. Their concerns are immediately obvious from the poems: the sticks and pricks of checking blood levels and the regulation of food intake recur throughout almost all of them, as does the stress of acquiring the new time-management skills that effective diabetes care requires. The siblings in the class wrote about their support for their affected brothers and sisters, and often expressed
I would like to thank all of the children who participated in these writing workshops. For most people, it is not easy to write a poem. And it is certainly not easy to express private feelings to a total stranger. These children – both patients and their siblings – were all struggling with a new development in their lives. It is my hope that the writing of these poems was helpful to them in sorting out some of the strong feelings that must surround their relationship with diabetes. I hope each of these young writers will think to turn again to the written word as they work their way through the long days and nights of diabetes, and indeed through all the events still to come in their lives, both sad and celebratory.
- Kate Daniels