Meet Charlie the Kid
[NOTICE: Charlie’s story is unique to Charlie. It is important that you follow your doctor’s advice for your diabetes. Charlie is not offering medical advice to anyone, he is sharing his experiences.]
Hi, I’m Charlie and I’m just a kid. I like to play games, ride bikes, and play baseball just like all the other kids. I do all the normal things kids do. I don’t seem much different from a normal kid, do I?
Well, the truth is I am a little bit different from my friends. I have a disease called diabetes. I have to keep my blood sugar in check and take insulin every day.
Sometimes when I meet people and I tell them I have diabetes, they don’t want to be my friend or they treat me different – like I can’t do the things they can do. While I am a little different, I can still do the things that everyone else can do.
I look up to people who live full lives even though they have diabetes, people like Bret Michaels.
Bret Michaels is a singer and TV star who takes good care of himself, he does the things that he enjoys and if he didn’t tell everyone he had diabetes – you would never know that he’s different from you.
I met Bret two years ago at one of his concerts and got a chance to talk to him for a minute. He and I talked about being a kid with diabetes and all the things he did when he was a kid living with diabetes. He’s a really cool guy and really cares about teaching kids with diabetes that you can still have fun, but you have to take care of yourself.
Bret and I want to tell you what we do every day to maintain our diabetes and share resources with you so that you, too, can manage your diabetes. I’ll tell you a little about me and Bret will tell you a little about him.
Yes, I have to stop and check my blood sugar or take insulin, but I’m still a kid. I like to play baseball, paint pictures and go swimming in the summer.
Instead of not being my friend because you think I’m different or my diabetes will interfere with our activities together, learn about my diabetes and get to know me. I have diabetes but I am just a kid like you.
Here’s a little bit of information about me:
- My body does not produce insulin that is necessary to break down sugar that I ingest.
- To keep my blood sugar in control I need to test it and take insulin when necessary.
- I cannot have things with sugar in them, but there are plenty of yummy treats I can eat.
- If my blood sugar isn’t kept in check, I could get very sick. I have learned to take care of my blood sugar levels so that doesn’t happen and I can teach you to help me if ever I do need help.
- Diabetes is not contagious – you cannot catch it from me.
I think that last part is the part that scares some people away. They just don’t understand that I know how to care for myself and manage my diabetes and that it really doesn’t affect them. Maybe they think they can catch it from me, maybe they are afraid that I’ll get sick and they’ll get blamed for it. I don’t know, but I have learned from my Mom and Dad and from diabetic camp how to check and maintain my blood sugars.
I may not be normal, but I’m not different. According the World Health Organization, about 220 million people have Type I and Type II diabetes. It’s more common that many people realize. It affects everyone in some way. Maybe your Grandma has it or maybe your teacher has it. Even if you don’t realize it, you probably know someone with diabetes.
Yes it can be a deadly disease, but I take care of myself and listen to what my Mom and Dad and my doctors say and learn to manage it well.
There are many kids like me and not all of them have had the chance to not be different. I want to help those kids not be different and go and do the things they want to do. I want to teach them, and their parents, how to manage their diabetes and be healthy. I want to give them, their parents and their friends and family resources to learn about diabetes.
I know it’s scary, but I can help you not be scared. I can help you get the information you need to live a long, happy and healthy life until we find a cure.
Researchers are looking for that cure and someday we’ll find it. Help us teach people about diabetes and to be healthy. How? By just being you, that’s how!
Now let me tell you about someone who helped me learn more to manage my diabetes, Bret Michaels. He’s been diabetic since he was six years old.
At first he and his parents were concerned about his future. They had a lot of questions and a lot of learning to do.
Over the years Bret acted just like a normal kid – playing sports, playing in bands and having a good time. Although he had to keep his blood sugar in check, take insulin and watch what he ate, he never let diabetes interfere with the things he wanted to do.
What did my friend Bret do to help me? When I was diagnosed with diabetes, my family didn’t know much about it or who to talk to about living with diabetes. Then my Mom learned about Bret Michaels on TV.
Bret Michaels is a big rock star; he is the lead singer for the band Poison. He also tours on his own with the Bret Michaels Band. He’s also a celebrity spokesperson for the American Diabetes Association. My Mom saw him doing an interview for a TV show he was going to be on. Bret was participating on a show called Celebrity Apprentice to raise money for the ADA to send diabetic kids like me to camp.
My Mom and Dad took me to one of Bret’s concerts about two years ago and we got to do a meet and greet with him. My Mom told him that I was just recently diagnosed with diabetes and she asked him for some advice. He said that the most important thing is to check my blood sugar and eat healthy foods. He then told my Mom to email his assistant, Janna, about sending me to diabetic camp. There I could learn to manage my diabetes and most importantly have fun while I learn.
Bret and I have been friends ever since. Now he’s asked me to help him help more kids like me and you teach others about our diabetes and how to take care of yourself and be healthy.
We will lead by example, educating others, raising awareness and most importantly taking good care of ourselves. Make sure you listen to your parents and your doctors about your specific care and needs, but don’t let diabetes get you down. If you are in control of it you can do anything you want to!
Here are some links: http://www.diabetes.org and http://www.jdrf.org
Thanks for listening to my story, I hope to hear from your soon!
Charlie the Kid