Denise Jonas, mother of the famous Jonas Brothers, talks about traveling with her son, Nick, who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 2005.
Type 1 diabetes affects approximately 1 in 500 children and adolescents. Unlike Type 2 diabetes, it cannot be controlled with diet and exercise. Because his body does not produce insulin naturally, Nick must wear an insulin pump to maintain his blood sugar. It hasn’t slowed him down, Denise Jonas tells TravelingMom founder Kim Orlando.
The Jonas Brothers’ movie, “Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience,” opens this weekend.
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TMOM: What is it like traveling with Nick, now that he has Type 1 diabetes?
DENISE JONAS: Type 1 diabetes is often called a disease, but it’s not a disease. Nick’s pancreas doesn’t work. It doesn’t produce insulin to transform the sugar from his diet into fuel, instead it just builds up in his bloodstream. It’s horrible, and it could cause comatose state, losing eye sight, losing limbs. When we travel, we always have to have extra things. Sometimes Nicholas doesn’t always tell me he’s low on his test strips, and I have to get a prescription and find a place to refill it overnight. And if he travels out of the country, I get really concerned. I always have extra insulin, needles, test strips, and finger sticks, all the time.
TMOM: It sounds hugely challenging.
DENISE JONAS: It does sound like a lot, but we live with it and don’t really notice it. At every concert, we’ve given a donation to the American Diabetes Association. We’ve asked their local branches to choose one Type 1 diabetic child or teen and give them the award; it’s a gift to come to the concert as Nicholas’ guest. Because it’s such a bummer to have this thing in your life – we just want to give them a break. Here’s a blessing for no reason, just come and enjoy the concert.
TMOM: Parents of diabetic children must see what you do, how you make this huge tour happen, and be inspired to make it work for their own families, whether that means leaving home for a vacation or even just getting a kid to basketball practice.
DENISE JONAS: A lot of parents I meet say, “How do you do this? I’m so afraid to let them go spend the night at a neighbor’s house.” I understand their concerns. Nicholas is the kind of guy where nothing holds him back. He’s funny – when he was diagnosed, on the way to the hospital, he started to get so upset. He said, “Why me?” but then he said, “Why not me?” He wanted to figure out how to help other diabetics and be inspiring. The first thing he asked for was a list of who else has Type 1 diabetes. He wanted to know the celebrities or sports figures with Type 1 diabetes. He wanted to know who could inspire him. Our own weakness can always encourage somebody else.