Twenty-three years ago this date started just like every other. It was even on a Saturday, just like today. I was involved in what was considered one of the hottest tickets on the New York Theatre seen, Tony ‘N Tina’s Wedding in 1992, doing eight shows a week. It was a day that would change our lives forever. Our youngest child (at the time, we would be blessed with a third child 3 years later), my only daughter, would be diagnosed with type one diabetes (T1D) at the age of two.
Devastation…..right? Well, not so fast.
If diabetes has become the new norm in your household recently, or perhaps it’s still just as devastating as the first day, pull up a chair. Twenty three years ago, pumps were not really in everyday use as they are today. CGM was only 3 letters. We waited 45 seconds for a ‘read’ on a glucometer. There were 2 types of insulin; long and short-acting and each shot was a mixture of both. Biological cures and Artificial/Bionic Pancreas were not even in the vocabulary as a hope. It was different back then.
We came to grips with two things pretty quickly; she could die from this disease and this disease will take everything we would allow it…….both thoughts were unacceptable. The little face you see pictured gave us all the strength we ever needed. From the moment diabetes took up residence we made it clear that it would be in our lives but it would NEVER rule us. We quickly learned that there was a Diabetes Terminator out there and it’s called education. Education about the disease, education on better management tools, education on research for a cure……we ‘gobbled’ up everything we could and we continue to do so to this day.
Ever watch an electrician work? Ever wonder why they have no fear about being seriously ‘zapped’? They DO have a fear of being zapped, so much so that they know everything there is so they know how to avoid it. Educate the process and the fear takes a back seat.
Want to get rid of THAT fear……become educated. Sure things can still happen but knowing that you have done all you could because you learned……well…….equalizer.
The two-year-old that laid in a crib back when is the strongest woman I know. She is direct. She inspires me to this day. As she taught me, “I have diabetes, diabetes IS NOT who I am!” Amen. From the first day she decided that it was time she could walk to the deli with her friends by herself, to this day where she sits upon the Dean’s List at the University of Rochester’s Nursing program she continues to let diabetes know, it just will not do in her life. And that is fine with me.
She has grappled with everything everyone deals with living with diabetes 24//7/365. How could she not? But she too understands the equalizer is education. When you understand something fully, you grasp everything fully.
So if you are fairly new at this, many decisions are up to you. One of us had to stop working. One of us had to hold two jobs. We could have lost everything. We had to decide if having another child would only be another child at risk…..we had a third child in 1995. We had to deal with his diagnosis at age 13, but we knew the percentages. We do not regret ANYthing because our eyes are wide open. The most important choice is choosing to do all you can to understand…….well all of this.
It has not been a bed of roses. It has been a lot of work. I sit in a hotel room as I write this, I will be involved with a walk later on with hundreds of people who have a connection to T1D. I have met so many people on this journey who I could not ever imagine not ever knowing. They are a part of me and some even own a piece of my heart and my soul. They are in this battle too. They are with me as well……they get it.
So I say to you, whatever you are dealing with, know that you can feed off the strength of your kids and allow that to fuel the fire in your soul. The fire to make this world a better place………for others…….but mostly for your children. There is not one thing my children have wanted to do…..NOT ONE…..that we did not figure out how to make happen. I am surely no brighter than you; YOU can do this diabetes thing. When a door opens, walk through it.
Our three children could not be any more different and all make me so proud each and every day. I did not want diabetes in our family but at the end of the day and twenty-three years later, the only thing that gets zapped in our house…………IS diabetes. And we work toward that…………………..every day. You can too.
I am a diabetes dad.
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