It’s not my disease.
Surely diabetes takes a toll on an entire family but I remember the story that friend shared years ago when our journey was just starting about whose disease it really belonged, and it was an important lesson I never forgot.
Let’s call her Kathy. A woman around 38, a beautiful woman inside and out with a husband and a sixteen year-old daughter at the time of this story about 19 years ago
The conversation went something like this:
Kathy: I want to tell you something Tom, and you will get angry but you need to hear it.
Kathy: I have had diabetes for over 30 years and it belongs to me. It did not belong to my parents. You, as a parent need to know this point. The best gift you can ever give Kaitlyn is to give it back to her.
Me: What are you talking about? It impacts the entire family; it belongs to all of us.
Kathy: No, it doesn’t.
Me: How can you say that….
Kathy: Listen. It DOES impact all of us but you must give it back. From the time I was diagnosed my parents did everything for me. Measured my insulin, gave me my shots, checked my blood sugar. Everything! They did everything for me because they felt I should not have to ‘worry’ about it as a child. I did nothing.
Me: That’s how it should be, you were a child, and it’s our job to….
Kathy: Wait. When I was 14, my mother and father were killed in an automobile accident. Just like that they were gone. In as much as I was so distraught at their death, I became angry as the months went on because I knew NOTHING about my diabetes. Nothing. I had it for years and I knew NOTHING. I became angrier that they didn’t teach me about MY diabetes than their own deaths. It took years of me speaking to someone to understand that it was their love for me, BUT…….I should have been taught.
Me: Wow Kathy I’m sorry.
Kathy: Learn and teach. The best gift you can give your child is to give diabetes back to them. Be there every step of the way but teach Kaitlyn starting now. You are never too young. It’s not your disease Tom, it’s Kaitlyn’s, never forget that because at the end of the day SHE has to be the one to manage it.
By time Kaitlyn was five, she was testing her own blood sugar; by six she was injecting herself after we measured. By 8 she was managing most of it by herself, under very watchful eyes, but herself none-the-less.
Because at the end of the day, it’s not our disease, it’s Kaitlyn’s (and now Rob also).
Thank you ‘Kathy’ wherever you are today.
I’m a Diabetesdad.