Tom Double, Junior Dandy – by Olly Double

My younger son Tom, who’s nearly 12 now, has been into dressing up and superheroes for about as long as he’s been diabetic – which is to say for as long as he can remember. When he was tiny, he wore a Spider-man costume so often that it went through at the knees and for so long that the bottom of the trouser legs were halfway up his calves. In fact, when he grew out of the Spidey suit, we bought him a bigger one, not as a present but as an item of everyday clothing.

Even now, he likes dressing up as heroic characters – last year, he bought himself a tweed jacket so he would look like Matt Smith as Dr Who. There’s something incredibly cool about seeing an 11-year-old in tweed. It’s not just about dressing up as people from TV or comic books, though.

Tom is a bona fide junior dandy. He loves wearing suits, jackets, ties and braces. At weekends and school holidays, he’ll often get changed several times a day, and he has a big clothes rail at the end of his bed to choose his latest outfit from. And as if all of that wasn’t enough – and I kid you not – he’s recently asked if he can have a top hat for his birthday.

Tom’s dandyism is one of the things I love about him. It’s also something I’m very glad about. In many ways, he’s not the most confident kid in the world, and I think this is partly related to his diabetes. He was very gung-ho about it when he was little – at infant school he thought it made him ‘famous’ among his classmates – but as he’s got older it’s chipped away at his confidence. Hypos, stupid kids telling him they don’t want to catch his ‘diabetes germs’, and the general fears that come along with having a chronic medical condition have all taken their toll. My wife Jacqui thinks that his obsession with superheroes comes from a desire to be strong and overcome the difficulties his body presents him with.

Talking of which, the other day he came downstairs dressed as an imaginary character he’d just made up. He was wearing a black, long-sleeved T-shirt, black leggings – don’t ask – and a scarlet bandana made out of stretch nylon covered the bottom half of his face. What was particularly cool was that he’d got another piece of the red stretch fabric and used it to tie his insulin pump to his upper thigh. He’d worked his diabetes into the costume, and made a design feature of it. He was being a diabetic martial arts hero. I suggested he should call himself THE INSULINJA.

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Hoorah for tom he is one amazing young man and i applaud him. I personally don’t dress up myself but clothes how they feel and look makes coping with my health problem easier. Its ok to be what ever you want to be and boo hiss to those who are nasty through ignorance. Rock on tom

Hi Olly,

I Love it!!! I think your Tom sounds like a superhero in his own right, in fact I think any youngster dealing with T1 deserves that title!

My son Ewan has a close friend who likes to dress up too, I think it is great, he is always the one wearing shirts, ties and suit jackets at parties when the rest of the gang are wearing jeans and T’s, I think it encouranges personality and I am sure in the future, he will be the most confident of the bunch!

Keep up the good work with the blogs and I’m looking forward to seeing the results of your time spent with Diabetes UK at the weekend!

Jenny X