If you have found this blog, saying Welcome does not really seem appropriate. I know you wish you weren't surfing the internet for diabetes. I felt the same.

A big part of me wishes I were not writing about diabetes, nor did I anticipate to become so opinionated or informed on the subject, but it happened. In 2010, my son was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.

It wasn't really part of the plan… Correction - it was not part of the plan, but it happened. It is not always easy, but I think we are all doing okay, and I hope we continue to do so.

Why the Middle East? I happen to live in Dubai. I don't think that living in the Middle East makes mine or my son's diabetic experience any more unique or challenging than it does elsewhere in the developed world.

I hope you stick around, or read something you like. Feel free to comment and join the conversation, subscribe or follow this blog by liking the Facebook page Diapoint.

Please note: This blog does not give medical advice. I am opinionated, and I share my experiences, but the first rule of diabetes is to follow up with your doctor and/or nurse educator about your care, diagnosis or medication. If you do not have a medical practitioner that is helping you find your way through this crazy world, then do not give up until you find the right one.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Confronting Your Fears

This week is Spring Break. Who doesn't love Spring Break? Time off to travel to a new place, or maybe just sleep in late to ease into the time off.

While we did wake up later than usual, it was not going to be an easy day. Instead of a fun, carefree day, it was the day that we were scheduled to get my son's annual blood test. And because of this dreaded day and the dreaded needle that draws several milliliters of blood from him, it was long over due - more than a year.

Even though Type 1 children put up with several needles of different kinds daily, the blood draw is often a difficult one for many. Like others, he was quite young at diagnosis, so finding those little veins has been difficult. So difficult that at diagnosis, the neonatal nurse in the hospital struggled to draw blood from his little 20-month old body. Years after that, other phlebotomists and determined physicians also struggled. As a result, his struggle with this has been greater.

This is one situation that stumps me. There is nothing I can really do or say that will make his anxiety go away, or make it easier for him. We just have to do it.

You may ask why. He is already diagnosed. Unfortunately, there are many other diseases that are common in Type 1 Diabetics. Other autoimmune issues happen.

Everyone in the Type 1 world of course hopes the tests come back negative because these kids already have so much to deal with. But it is critical to discover and start treating other chronic conditions early should they occur. Some of those include thyroid conditions, Celiac, Addison's or other diseases.

Being the brave boy that he is, he did it, but it was not easy at all. He sat in my lap and I tried to talk him through it to keep him calm.

There were tears. A lot of tears. He begged God for it to stop.

After it was finished, we talked about it. He even felt that it was not as bad as it had been in the past, and that the phlebotomist who drew the blood did a good job. And of course she was clever enough to not call him a baby for crying as one nurse did in the past. Regardless, we were both beyond relieved that we do not have to do that for another year.

That evening he asked if he could ask me a question. "Of course", I said.

He began... "You know how when you say you try to understand what it is I feel being diabetic?"

"Yes", I said.

"What did you feel while I was getting my blood test?" he asks.

"I was sad", I told him. "I could feel your fear, and I wish it were me instead of you."

He then proceeded to tell me about Muhammad Ali and what he said about fear.

"You can't be brave without fear."

This left me even more speechless than his curiosity about what I felt during that difficult time.


I looked up the quote to confirm if it was from Ali, and in what context he said it. What an amazing lesson it was about confronting fear.  In his book The Soul of a Butterfly, he talks about confronting fear.

Reading that excerpt, I learned that Muhammad Ali was afraid of flying. He actually thought about passing on the 1960 Italian Olympics because of this. He shared all these scenarios he had in his mind around fear of the plane crashing. He actually thought about not going to the Olympics because of this.

Then he remembered what his father said, " 'Always confront the things you fear'. I realize we are only brave when we have something to loose and we still try. We can't be brave without fear."

If he had given into his fear, he would not have gone to the Olympics, and he would not have won a gold medal, and as he tells the story, perhaps he would not have not have become the heavyweight champion of the world.


I have nothing really profound to say or reflect on this. My son, this situation and Muhammad Ali's story left me with more than enough. I rarely write anything so personal about how he deals with his diabetes, but I asked for his permission to share this story.

I wanted to share it because it was is a really good lesson that even the strongest and toughest people we admire are afraid of something.

In the end, they win because they face it.

Carry on my diabetic warriors!


  1. My mom made me believe I was contributing to the advancement of science. I was 5 and mom asked how I would feel if me and only me could find a cure for diabetes? She also convinced me that only my blood might work. Yes it was a lie, but darn it worked until I was 14. Mom said it was about 10 years of peace. LOL

  2. What a brave, brave boy you have there. You are such a wonderful mother and help keep all your readers informed. That's a beautiful example of bravery and courage - by both of you. Thank you for sharing your story. <3

  3. wow. this is beautiful, pam. as someone who absolutely hates blood draws and has a long history of embarrassing moments while getting them (i even wrote a college essay about this topic!), i think your son is a very courageous and thoughtful soul. i love that he discovered this (very true) quote on his own, and i love that he immediately took it to heart. because without fear, there is indeed nothing to be brave about.

    oh, and . . . "to not call him a baby for crying as one nurse did in the past." seriously?! wow. this person is in the wrong profession.

    1. Thank you April! I bet there are many people who could relate to your essay about blood draws!

      And on the nurse that called him a baby.. That goes into my education presentation when I speak at medical conferences.. I have many shocking incidents and things people say... stranger than fiction

  4. "Oh Pam, please tell you son thank you for allowing you to share his and your personal story and this specific blood-draw experience. I had and have tears in my eyes the whole way through. I was born with a heart defect, and I remember it like it is happening now, those many frightening medical appointments from as far back as I can remember. Thank God for my mother who helped me be brave with her loving warmth and always letting me sit in her lap every two years for the awful tests. Your son is so lucky to have you and you so lucky to have him.

    Mayhap this will be of value to your son. One of the positives of having been studied, and literally a nameless write up in many pediatric heart journals and having gone through many scary situations with some insensitive medical residents...I became brave around hospitals and medical emergencies. When my son, at age stumbled in our yard and hit his forehead on a rock, he needed stitches, and I was calm, thought to grab "buppy" a favorite baby blanket for comfort and able to have buppy hug him during the procedure so he felt as if he was in Mama's lap. What I mean is, I am the one you want in a medical emergency. I became brave for others when their health was threatened or they had to go for these scary and painful procedures. So your son may have this challenging journey, and a possible plus is he will be the brave one for others as well as himself. Sorry to write such a long comment, your post really moved me. Love, love "I realize we are only brave when we have something to loose and we still try. We can't be brave without fear." I say, "Our curses are our blessings." Bless you and your son and your blog that touches and teaches so many of us. Namaste."

    1. Juls, Thank you so much for sharing your story. You are a brave soul. Before I had a child, and a Type 1 child, I worked in hospitals for several years as a manager, so I have some very small insight into that world, but there is nothing that can prepare you for what you have been through. Pediatric cardiology is something else at a whole other level - to consider it as an experience is almost too small of a word. I really appreciate you and your post. Thank you.

  5. Thanks for posting this Pam. It sounds like you have a very special realtionship with your son and he is a very special human being. Fear finds us in many guises and this simple and beautiful quote is one I will carry in my tool box!

    1. Thank you Michele. I find his special, but I am biased :) We have been through a lot together on this diabetic journey. It does not define us, but it has taught us a lot and often gives us much to reflect on. I really want to read Ali's book because it seems like there is a lot of good wisdom for the tool box in there!

  6. What an inspiring message! It's so true that we can't be brave without fear and that's something we all face. And the fact that he can recognize that at such a young age is a beautiful thing. He sounds like a very strong little boy!

    1. Thank you Melanie! He is.. but then again, these T1 kiddos usually are..

  7. Pam, this post is really inspiring! I admire your son's strength, and yours as well. I cannot fathom how hard it must be for both of you to go through something like this, and I am impressed by how you're handling it.

    I love the quote and I think I'll be adding Muhammad Ali's book to my long list of to-be-read books ;)

    1. Thank you Bouchra, I'm not sure I call it difficult anymore.. it has its challenging moments, and it is certainly a learning experience.

  8. Such courage and bravery from your son and also you. I found it such a beautiful lesson in how your son was such an inspiration for you at the time and that lesson first shared by Muhammed Ali is now being shared so much more widely through this post.

    Thank you for sharing so openly and by doing so for making such a difference.

  9. What a touching story with your son, and how brave and intuitive he is! I am curious about Ali's book too :-)

    1. Thank you Caroline! Yes, this book is on my summer reading list!

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