Siblings—DO they Really Understand? A Story that Changed My Life.


 No matter how hard the attempt, diabetes has always prevented us from giving the full amount of time needed to those who are the brother and sister of someone with diabetes.  Whatever the event, attention is drawn away.  And we tried pretty hard to find a balance.  But it seemed falling short indeed did happen.  One story in particular breaks my heart to this day.

When Kaitlyn was very young, I told my wife that when Kaitlyn would be around T.J. (her brother) that we should correct her in some sort of manner.  The goal was so T.J. would see that Kaitlyn was by no means perfect and in some case needing of discipline.

Shortly thereafter the opportunity presented itself (or so I thought). 

Jill was not around and I was watching T.J. and Kaitlyn (Rob was not even born yet but the memory is burned in my heart to this day).  I do not even remember what the incident was and it doesn’t matter.  I seized the opportunity where T.J. and Kaitlyn were together and I raised my voice and said, “Kaitlyn, stop.  Kaitlyn that is wrong and don’t do that again!” 

(To this day I still tear up remembering this story.) 

Kaitlyn looked up at me with those big round eyes, and her lip started to shake.  Tears rolled down her cheeks and she pee’d on herself and all over the floor.  No sooner than that happened that T.J., at probably only 7 years of age, ran into the kitchen and retrieved paper towels and tissues and started cleaning Kaitlyn and the floor. 

“Don’t worry about this Kaitlyn, I will clean it up.  It will be okay.” 

I stood there with my mouth hanging open as T.J. cleaned every inch of his sister and wiped the floor around her once I took her in and changed her. 

Jill will tell you that I was inconsolable for weeks after.  What had I done?   What I did not factor in was that at the time I did this, Kaitlyn was over 350… ‘accident’, with little help, was inevitable with the right final push which came from me, diabetesdad,.  No one has made more mistakes at this than me. 


There are a few points here and the most important point is that the brothers and sisters of those with diabetes ‘get it’ more than we know.  But we should always keep looking to encourage them, spend time with them, and let them KNOW ALSO just how important they are in our lives and do it more than we think we do. 

Those who read my Facebook pages know how different our 3 kids are and just what is so special about each.  T.J., now 25, is a vital part of our community working at Long Island’s largest hospital and also volunteering in our local fire department.  He is awaiting the call from the NYPD that he has been accepted into their academy.  He is a dedicated boyfriend to Joelle, and has always been ‘the watcher’ over his younger sister and brother.  I have seen T.J. cry 5 times in my life.  He is a very strong man in many ways. 

Sometimes the siblings of the one with diabetes……become another child with diabetes as well.  T.J. cried in my arms when his little brother was diagnosed also with diabetes at age thirteen in 2009.  “He cannot have to live with this forever, he just can’t.” 

We pray for all of T.J.’s dreams to come true.

We are so very proud of all of our kids.  I have stated a thousand times how kids with diabetes do everything…….and because of their diabetes, they do it with an asterisk.  I even wrote about it once.

But siblings……they do everything with an asterisk too, never forget that point.  Feel free to share just how special the siblings in your house are to you.

I’m a diabetesdad.

2 replies on “Siblings—DO they Really Understand? A Story that Changed My Life.”

If I were to pick only one memory that will stay with me forever, where my daughter had completely shown us that she “gets it”, it would have to be back when Lenny was first diagnosed. He was leaving to go spend the weekend with his grandparents and as they were walking out the door, she started crying uncontrollably and trying to tell us something (but as kids can do, when they are crying hard, it was difficult to understand her). We had finally calmed her down enough to get her to tell us what was wrong, and the words that came out of her mouth (at the age of about 2 1/2 years old) was jaw-dropping. She said “HIS BAG!”… meaning the little lunchbox he would carry around with him that held extra snacks, glucose tabs, juice boxes, etc. My heart broke right then and there… but mainly because, not only did we realize that even at the age of 2, she did understand some of what was going on, but also that she endures just as much worry, and at times fear, as we do. I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it a thousand times… kids this little, those with T1 and their siblings, shouldn’t have to be burdened with these types of fears. Unfortunately, though, they do, just as much, if not more, than us parents do. I’ll never forget that day for as long as I live.

It is just my sister and I in my family and I had just turned 8 years old and she was just 4 at the time I was diagnosed with type 1 in 1989. Of course all of the focus and worry was on me at the time and my mother never left my side the entire week I was recovering in the hospital. My father had to work and my grandmother came to stay with my sister and help out the first week I came home. Later in life my dad told me that one night he came home from the hospital and went to say goodnight to my sister and she was looking out the window saying, ‘starlight, star bright, I wish I may, I wish I might, Have my sister be alright’ and that that was the first time he broke down after my diagnosis. However, it was not until at least ten years later in life when my sister and I were able to reflect and talk about past events and growing up that she admitted to me sometimes she felt left out and neglected because Mom and Dad had to pay so much attention to me all the time. Not only was this the 1st time I realized she felt this way but it was also the 1st time I realized how others were affected by my diabetes. I mean, it never occurred to me because diabetes affects me entirely that I had never had time to think about around me. Or maybe it was just getting out of those teenage years. My sister has grown into one of the strongest, healthiest, smartest, most resilient and independent and without a doubt the most gorgeous girl I know. I am so lucky to have had her as a little sister. She even save my life once!

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