Family support is vital part of diabetes management

My daughter has an insatiable love of red velvet cake.

Plain sheet cake with no adornments, a triple-layer cake with cream cheese icing, cupcakes with colorful sprinkles -- no matter the form, it must be red velvet. She will devour it with a steady purpose that is fascinating to watch. Every year for her birthday, she gets this favorite cake. When she turned twelve this past year, she wandered into the kitchen as I was mixing the batter and asked, "Mom, do they make diabetic icing?"

"Diabetic icing?"

"For the cake. Do they make icing that won't make your blood sugar go up?"

Good question. "You know…I don't know," I told her. "I have never looked for it."

Perhaps I avoid looking for low-sugar icing because I realize just how much attention my family pays to diabetes already. From my partner's gentle reminder -- "Did you take your insulin this morning?" -- to my children learning to love the fresh veggies instead of plates loaded with pasta, those around me make it clear, every single day, that diabetes is not just my challenge. It's our challenge.

It wasn't always this easy. There were times when I was the only one at the dinner table eating Brussels sprouts. There were days when my kids wanted to play tag, but I was busy dealing with a blood sugar low. There have been arguments with my partner, sparked merely by the irritability of an out-of-nowhere high. There have been misunderstandings, frustrations and fears.

We slowly built a family support system

But over time, my little family has evolved into understanding, encouragement and planning.

These days, my kids know that a change in my usual sunny disposition means it's time to break out the meter, because my blood sugar is probably doing weird things. My partner keeps the glove compartment stocked with juice boxes and Lifesavers, just in case. My best friend never asks the "Are you sure you should be eating that?" question -- instead, it's "Don't forget to plan for our weekly margarita!"

My family trusts me when it comes to diabetes. But they are also my safety net, ready to catch me on the bad days. When experts say that family support goes a very long way toward keeping diabetes under control, I am again grateful for the Lifesavers, fresh veggies and questions about diabetic icing.

My daughter got cream cheese icing, by the way. After a bit of an insulin adjustment, I had some. It was absolutely delicious.

About Shannon Lee

Shannon Lee has lived with diabetes for seventeen years. When she's not playing ninja with lancets or counting carbs, she can be found traveling across the country with laptop in hand, writing about anything that strikes her fancy.

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