Howdy cool kids!
I know it’s been awhile, I’m not even going to try making excuses for my lack of posts lately. Today I wanted to highlight an awesome DIY-project started by a mother and her 8-year-old daughter, Diabetic Barbie. After Emma was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, her mother Amy was, like most parents, completely overwhelmed with the situation they were suddenly thrown into. Fast-forward to today, and the two are helping children with Type 1 Diabetes around the world cope and find support through a very different, fun way: creating doll and stuffed animal-sized diabetes accessories.
Way cooler than Sea World Trainer Barbie. Photo Courtesy of Diabetic Barbie.
I can’t even begin to express how supportive I am of this project. When my sister was diagnosed with Type 1 at the age of nine in 2002, she returned from the hospital with a teddy bear covered with patches, showing the areas you can test and give insulin injections. This was several years before I would be diagnosed so I didn’t fully understand what the diagnosis meant, so I think my thoughts were something along the lines of “UGH! The doctor never gives me stuffed animals!”
Something like this bad-boy.
Embarrassing, I know. My point is that incorporating diabetes into playtime can help with feelings of alienation (the rest of you pancreatically-challenged folks probably know what I’m talking about) and make kids more enthusiastic about being healthy. And, of course, it’s fun. The following is from an interview via email with Amy about Diabetic Barbie and what the future holds for the project. So enough of me, here’s the interview!
What the diagnosis process was like for Emma and yourself? What was going through your head when you found out Emma had Type 1 Diabetes and the care that it requires?
Emma was diagnosed on June 26, 2008 at 4 years old. I think in the beginning I was in denial really, or shock. I kept expecting the doctor to come in the room and tell me that they had made a mistake and we could go home. It literally turned my world upside down and I was torn between uncontrollable sobs and fear to trying to remain strong and in control for Emma’s sake. Her blood sugar was 33 (594) when she was diagnosed and she didn’t have any ketones. She felt good for the most part, so she really didn’t understand why we had to stay in the hospital all day. She just wanted to go home. I remember feeling like I would never be able to do this. I would never be able to give her needles everyday. I felt like I failed as her Mom and that we would never be able to do it.
**Editor’s Note: In the United States blood glucose is measured in mg/dl, but in most countries it is measured in mmol/l. Hence the reason that 33 (which would be scary low in mg/dl) converts to 594. Why aren’t we on the metric system yet?
How did you and Emma first think of the idea of Diabetic Barbie? Did you two have a sort of “Aha!” moment?
Emma actually came up with the idea for DB. She had been talking with her friends at school about how they heard there was going to be a bald Barbie for children with cancer. She came home from school that day and asked me why there wasn’t going to be a diabetic Barbie too! I told her that was a very good question, there really SHOULD be one too! After calling Mattel and getting told that they didn’t accept unsolicited suggestions for their products, I decided to make a little pump for one of Emma’s own Barbies instead. She loved it so much that she said, “Mommy, you should put that on Facebook so other kids can see!” So, I did, and here we are over 5,000 fans later!
“Emma wishing there was a Diabetic Barbie on shelves today!” (I thought the original caption was too cute to not include) Photo Courtesy of Diabetic Barbie.
Do you ever hear back from people that have ordered from you? What are the responses from kids usually like?
I have heard back from a lot of people who have ordered actually. It is one of my favorite things about doing this. So far all of the kiddos have loved them! So far the response has been fantastic! We have gotten orders from Ireland, Iceland, all over Canada and the US, as well as the UK. I think it is awesome, just knowing that these kiddos are getting to play with a toy that is just like them. It makes me smile.
I read at one point on your page you were creating packs for newly diagnosed kids in the hospital. What was that like?
I haven’t gotten a chance to make the packs for newly diagnosed kiddos at the hospital yet, we had planned on bringing them in this summer for the kids, but then our clinic appointment had to be changed because Emma and I went back home to Wisconsin to visit my family. Our new appointment is in October though, and I will be bringing a bunch with us then! Can’t wait to see what they think!
Why do you personally think it’s important for something like Diabetic Barbie to exist?
I personally think that DB needs to exist for our kiddos. It let’s them have something to play with that can be a source of comfort, a chance to educate their friends or siblings, just to make them happy, to have something that is just like them!
IT’S SO COOL!!! Photo Courtesy of Diabetic Barbie.
What’s next for Diabetic Barbie (I LOVE the pump pillow!) and you and Emma? Emma seems like she is already a stellar diabetes advocate.
Emma and I have a few things in the works these days and we are really excited! We are still pursuing the Build A Bear route, making things happen with our friends at Animas, and hoping to make more pump pillows and other d-related accessories too! Emma has been a huge advocate for her disease pretty much since day 1. Only four months after diagnosis she asked me if we could have a hot chocolate sale to raise money “for the people looking for a cure,” and we have held one every year since then. So that will be coming up in November as well!
Emma repping World Diabetes Day and kicking it with Lenny the Lion. Photo Courtesy of Diabetic Barbie.
And last but not least, if a 21-year-old woman hypothetically wanted to order a pump for a sock monkey she might hypothetically have, how would she or anyone order it?
If anyone would like to order an accessory pack for their doll, barbie, stuffed animal, etc. they can email me a firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know what colours/design/sizes they would like. I am using PayPal for payment.
The designs are truly endless. Ladybugs, rainbows, cow print, you name it.
And my personal favorite, Biker Penguin with a Leopard-Print Pump Case. Photo Courtesy of Diabetic Barbie.
That’s all for today, fantastic readers! Have a wonderful week and don’t forget to “Like” Diabetic Barbie on Facebook.
Hey hey hey, goobye.