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Published October 31, 2012, 11:40 PM

Diabetes brings ‘unusual happiness’

HAWLEY, Minn. - Ann Clute says that although diabetes is a dilemma, she never thought of it as a burden. The Hawley woman, whose husband and two of their five children are Type 1 diabetics, calls the disease a “gift” because of what it’s taught her.

By: Meredith Holt, INFORUM

Where to get Clute's book

Ann Clute’s book, “Blessed With Unusual Happiness: A Mother’s Love Story About the Gift of Diabetes and So Much More,” is available online at http://tinyurl.com/blessedmom and locally at stores including Thrifty Drug and Zandbroz Variety in Fargo.


HAWLEY, Minn. - Ann Clute says that although diabetes is a dilemma, she never thought of it as a burden.

The Hawley woman, whose husband and two of their five children are Type 1 diabetics, calls the disease a “gift” because of what it’s taught her.

“The gift for me, in our family, is that we can’t be in control. You have to let God be there with you,” says the 53-year-old retired elementary school teacher.

Her 55-year-old husband, Steve, was diagnosed with the disease at age 3, their oldest son, Eric, now 23, was diagnosed at 4, and 21-year-old Joran at 11.

For the rest of their lives, the three Clute men must closely monitor and regulate their blood sugar levels, or they risk serious medical complications.

In her self-published book, “Blessed With Unusual Happiness: A Mother’s Love Story About the Gift of Diabetes and So Much More,” Clute talks about diabetes, parenting and faith, and how they’ve intersected in her life.

The book’s title refers to how she came to regard the life-threatening illness affecting three of her family members.

“Unusual things, I think, bring us the most happiness in the long run,” she says.

Clute’s positive outlook didn’t come about without first accepting the harsh realities of the disease.

“As I grew to understand, there are immense, proven risks that painful experiences related to suffering and death will come along with loving someone who lives with the disease,” she writes.

Nor has raising two diabetic children been without difficulty.

“There’s nothing harder than giving your 4-year-old a shot every day, but you know you have to do it. If you don’t, he’s going to die,” she says.

The boys’ close friends, coaches and teachers knew they were diabetic, but Clute says they didn’t want to be labeled or treated any differently than anyone else.

However, she says they aren’t shy to answer questions about living with diabetes.

“They don’t hesitate to talk about it because it hasn’t been negative for them. We haven’t approached it as a negative thing. We’ve all watched our sugar levels and salt intake; exercise has always been a huge part of our lives,” Clute says.

She says Joran wants to go into endocrinology to become a diabetes doctor so he can use his personal experience to help others.

The boys looked to their father as an example while they learned to manage the disease for themselves.

“In the morning, you brush your teeth and you take your shot – that’s what they saw their dad do,” Clute says.

They learned from each other, too.

“He had lived with it by seeing how Eric had lived with it. He’d seen the pros and the cons of it,” Clute says of Joran.

She recalls Joran running to his parents’ bedroom to tell them his brother was having an insulin reaction when he felt him shake their bunk bed.

Now the family’s youngest child, Kyrsten, brings a candy bar along wherever they go in case Steve, Eric or Joran need it.

“I think we’ve all learned to watch for and recognize the signs,” Clute says.

Managing diabetes requires a lot of planning, but the Clutes never let it rule their lives or stand in the way of family, work, school or sports.

“It took second place,” she says.

Clute’s goal is to make her book available to parents of newly diagnosed diabetic children to offer them some hope and guidance.

“I want moms to know that they are never alone and that if they do their best, believe in God’s will, and stay positive, both they and their families can experience ‘unusual happiness,’ ” she writes.

Nor has raising two diabetic children been without difficulty.

“There’s nothing harder than giving your 4-year-old a shot every day, but you know you have to do it. If you don’t, he’s going to die,” she says.

The boys’ close friends, coaches and teachers knew they were diabetic, but Clute says they didn’t want to be labeled or treated any differently than anyone else.

However, she says they aren’t shy to answer questions about living with diabetes.

“They don’t hesitate to talk about it because it hasn’t been negative for them. We haven’t approached it as a negative thing. We’ve all watched our sugar levels and salt intake; exercise has always been a huge part of our lives,” Clute says.

She says Joran wants to go into endocrinology to become a diabetes doctor so he can use his personal experience to help others.

The boys looked to their father as an example while they learned to manage the disease for themselves.

“In the morning, you brush your teeth and you take your shot – that’s what they saw their dad do,” Clute says.

They learned from each other, too.

“He had lived with it by seeing how Eric had lived with it. He’d seen the pros and the cons of it,” Clute says of Joran.

She recalls Joran running to his parents’ bedroom to tell them his brother was having an insulin reaction when he felt him shake their bunk bed.

Now the family’s youngest child, Kyrsten, brings a candy bar along wherever they go in case Steve, Eric or Joran need it.

“I think we’ve all learned to watch for and recognize the signs,” Clute says.

Managing diabetes requires a lot of planning, but the Clutes never let it rule their lives or stand in the way of family, work, school or sports.

“It took second place,” she says.

Clute’s goal is to make her book available to parents of newly diagnosed diabetic children to offer them some hope and guidance.

“I want moms to know that they are never alone and that if they do their best, believe in God’s will, and stay positive, both they and their families can experience ‘unusual happiness,’ ” she writes.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Meredith Holt at (701) 241-5590

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