In our last post, we introduced you to Judi Hoskins, mother of diabetes blogger Michael Hoskins, as she shared her story about how much diabetes care has changed in the span of her lifetime. Today, we focus on what it was like for Judi to raise Michael, also living with type 1, and how the two have grown together through the years.
Judi said she and her husband understood the potential of having a child with diabetes when she got pregnant, but that didn’t help shake the pain when Michael was diagnosed.
“It was one of the most crushing things I was ever told,” Judi said. “When the nurse in the pediatrician’s office said, ‘It’s not really that bad if he follows his diet and takes his shots,’ I gave her a look. I then locked myself in the bathroom at the doctor’s office and cried for 20 minutes. I knew what it was and how bad it could be. It was one of the worst days of my life.”
Judi said when she was diagnosed, she was quickly made to do a lot of the things needed to manage her blood sugar on her own. Michael said it didn’t take long before he was doing some of his own blood sugar management.
“I don’t remember a lot after the diagnosis,” Michael said. “I learned about my blood glucose meter pretty quick – it was the size of a brick. I remember getting my first shot at my grandparents’ house. I remember sitting on the couch and not wanting it. But by the time I was 8 or 9 I was doing a lot of the management myself.”
Much like his mother, Michael said he had some challenges with his diabetes in his late teens and early 20s.
“I had a lot of emotional issues living with diabetes, it’s something the medical community has only acknowledged a little, if at all,” Michael said. “I had to get over the hopelessness of my early 20s and learn to think outside myself.”
Michael said Judi and his father both shielded him from as much of the trials of living with diabetes as they could early in his life, but as he got into his older teens, he said he was not testing his blood sugar and that his A1C result was out of his recommended range.
Eventually Michael was able to better manage his blood sugar levels. He said meeting his future wife during his early 20s and the evolution of their relationship gave him new reason to test his blood sugars on a regular basis and to take care better care of himself.
Another thing that really made a change in Michael’s life was his discovery of the diabetes online community (DOC). He said it moved him into feeling as if he was part of a much larger community. In fact, he says his discovery of the DOC was life-changing.
“I never knew there was a community out there like me,” Michael said. “I never knew I needed a community of support. I thought, ‘It’s my disease, it’s mine alone to deal with.’ I had checked out some message boards and list servers a few times to look a few things up, but it was nothing to the extent of what it is now.”
“Right after I got married I wasn’t sleeping well, so I was staying up all night. I would sit at my desk and get online and I was looking for some practical living tips for what I was going through. Somehow I stumbled across Kerri Sparling’s blog, which was relatively new at that point. From there I just started meeting and interacting with people in the blogosphere. It was eye-opening to see people living their lives like that. I lurked online for a couple years before I started my own blog. But now I can’t imagine my life without the DOC.”
Judi says she reads Michael’s, Kerri’s and a few other diabetes blogs, but says that she doesn’t necessarily need the support of the DOC. She said having grown up without much of a huge support network has her accustomed to relying mainly on herself.
“I came from the age where there wasn’t online support,” Judi said. “I’m not used to having it. The truth is, I don’t need that support. I never had it in my life; I didn’t grow up with being online. I depend on myself. I’m very self-sufficient.”
It’s interesting to hear the two different perspectives on the need and desire for a support network. However, Michael says the lessons he’s learned from his mother have been invaluable.
“She taught me you always have to fight your own fight,” Michael said. “You have to stand on your own two feet. From an early age, she showed me we would have to battle the school system, other authority figures, insurance companies, to get what you’re really supposed to be getting. She showed me you have to keep fighting that fight.”
Anyone who has read Michael’s blog knows that he is following in his mother’s footsteps quite nicely. Judi is a true inspiration and is an example of how someone can create their own path (remember, she is a Joslin medalist after all). The mother-son duo is also an example of the roller coaster ride that life with diabetes can be for some people. There’s so much to learn from these two, and I sincerely thank them for sharing their story with us. We wish the best for both of them.
Disclosure: Judi Hoskins and Michael Hoskins received no compensation for this post. All opinions contained in this post reflect those of the interviewees, and not of Sanofi US, its employees, agencies or affiliates.