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Sharing Stories of People Affected by Type 1 Diabetes Part II

Posted: Updated: Jun 19, 2018 09:14 AM
Tyler Gatesman Tyler Gatesman
Jeremy, Tyler, and Whitney Gatesman Jeremy, Tyler, and Whitney Gatesman
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) -

Managing diabetes is a full-time job. While most won't start full-time work until early adulthood, when you have a child with diabetes you are forced to do their job for them, work to support them and their medical costs, and train them to take the reins when it's time.

Balancing that all can take a toll.

Tyler Gatesman is 6 years old now. He was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 3, and he knows some things he does are different from other kids.

“I get shots,” he said. “Sometimes it hurts a little, but I just don't really care…I just don't really care sometimes," he said.

But, mostly, this way of life is all he knows.

“Yeah, it feels normal to me,” said Tyler.

But, for his parents, the lifestyle change was jarring.

“I had no idea what that meant. I thought, ‘oh, maybe he can't eat certain things,’ and then a few hours later we're finding out he's getting shots four times a day indefinitely until there's a cure,” said Tyler’s mom, Whitney Gatesman.

Being the parent of a child with diabetes is a job that often gets overshadowed by the disease itself.

“We're constantly calculating in our minds,” said Jeremy Gatesman, Tyler’s father.

But, the responsibility of keeping a kid alive can sometimes be overwhelming.

“It's hard as an adult to wake up and get a snack. It is hard knowing that that's going to be his responsibility someday,” the mother said.

Whitney says she wakes up throughout the night to test Tyler's blood sugars. It’s common for parents of diabetic children, because kids often can't feel a dangerously low-blood sugar while sleeping.

If a low sugar isn't treated, it can become fatal quickly.

“When he was 3, I envisioned, like 7 or 8 years old, right around then was when he would become more active in doing those things himself…but I'm not going to lie, I get scared when I think of him doing this on his own,” Whitney said.