Scott Benner: Father of Arden
Scott Benner, 41, and Arden, 8
Scott Benner knew next to nothing about diabetes when his then 2-year-old daughter, Arden, was diagnosed with type 1. But as a stay-at-home dad, he understood that the majority of her care fell on him. So when the numbness he felt after hearing about the diagnosis prevented him from fully grasping the complexities of carb counting, Benner was overwhelmed. "I just started to cry," he recounts. "I felt like my inability was going to kill Arden."
But life with diabetes gets better after diagnosis, and Benner is now comfortable with his daughter's care. And in the past six years, Arden has done much growing up, too. "We have age-appropriate conversations when it feels like it's the time to have one," he says. So Arden knows that too much insulin can hurt her, but she hasn't yet learned about complications of diabetes.
The older she gets, the more responsibility she takes for her own diabetes management. "This year, she [started to test] herself in class," says Benner, who uses text messages to communicate with his daughter during the school day as she checks her blood glucose and uses her pump to give insulin for lunch.
Just because Arden has taken on some of the burden of diabetes management doesn't mean Benner is suddenly stress free. He still checks her blood glucose twice during the night to make sure she doesn't go too low. Safeguarding the health of a child with diabetes, he admits, can be difficult. "There's nothing easy about not sleeping," he says. "But it doesn't feel like a lot of work all the time."
Possibly the hardest adjustment for Benner has been an emotional one. "[Before Arden's fourth birthday], my sister-in-law said, 'Arden heard the girls talking about birthday wishes, and she's going to wish for her diabetes to go away,' " he says. "I had to talk to her. Usually those conversations are harder on her, but that one was so hard on me."
Benner understands how difficult it can be for dads of newly diagnosed kids, but he says the experience can strengthen both a father and his family. "I've seen the strength I have that I didn't know I had," he says. "And it's all because I saw Arden's strength when she was diagnosed."
Read more about Arden and Scott Benner on his blog, ArdensDay.com.