The Things People Say


Editor’s Note: This story was originally published on Kate Felton’s blog Not Sure How Today Ends

It’s funny. I hear the same things from other parents over and over again, after this diagnosis. Please, if you have been the asker of these questions, don’t feel bad. I know exactly where the question came from and I harbor no ill will.

How did you know?

Translation: How would I know?  Click here for that answer. Awareness saves lives. 

Did you have a history of diabetes in your family?

Translation: Please say yes, so I can go back to believing this lightening won’t strike my family.

But you can control it with diet and exercise, right?

Translation: This isn’t a big deal, right? I’m really uncomfortable and would like this to not be a big deal, so we can stop talking about it now.

You are such a good mom. She is lucky to have you.

I am a mediocre mom on my best day, but the research assures me that that is most likely good enough. I am getting by day to day with what has been put in front of me just like every other parent out there. The fact that I have some big ugly medical shit on my plate doesn’t make me a good mom. It does make me more tired than you, but that is the only race I am winning. If I know anything, I know I am lucky to have her.

And the inevitable, 

I could never give my kid a shot like that.

Yes, you could. You all could. I promise you, you could and you would, without missing a beat. In the face of death, needles are no big thing.

Less common, but still more frequent than I would like are:

Oh, I have a second cousin/friend of a friend/third uncle twice removed who died/went blind/lost a limb from that.

This is a tough one, especially in front of the kids, especially in front of O, who hears and absorbs everything. 

My cat had diabetes and my insurance wouldn’t even cover her insulin.

This is a real true thing someone complained to me about, recently. I had a very hard time controlling my face.


At least it isn’t something really bad, like cancer.

No. Fucking. Comment.

I try to answer the questions as honestly and as openly as I can, putting aside my own reaction to them and trying to provide information while recognizing where the other person is coming from. I’m am striving to be genuine in my life, to ask for help when I need it, to say out loud when things are hard, and a lot is hard right now.

I get it. It is weird and hard and awkward to just let these big scary words like diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), coma, seizures, amputations, blindness and hospital just hang out there, heavy in the air. It is hard to know what to say. I guess, I’d just like to give everyone permission to be quiet, to hear the hard things and not feel the need to fill the silence. If you must speak, I am quite fond of the poetry in the phrase, “Shit man, that fucking sucks.”

WRITTEN BY Kate Felton, POSTED 01/04/18, UPDATED 10/20/22

Kate Felton is a writer and an artist, who lives in Los Angeles with one unbelievably well-mannered dog, three delightfully unruly children and her eternally patient husband. Her daughter, Penny, was diagnosed with type 1 in December of 2015, at the age of 3. Kate blogs at, and writes elsewhere on the interwebs. When she isn't chasing children, she produces theatre and sits on the boards of several nonprofits.