Over 3000 miles from where I sit a young lady will be waking up to go to work. It’s her birthday today, she is 23. She will finish work, probably go to one of her classes, come home, spend time with her family, and probably go someplace for dinner with her boyfriend.
Oh yes, she has type 1 diabetes.
Probably for most people to which this may not seem like a big deal, it’s probably the least of a big deal to the woman who has lived with it for over 20 years. No one knows more than she knows what it is like to take shots, check blood sugars, utilize insertion sets, deal with changing pump supplies, deal with a CGM and the list is actually quite long. She does it as a second nature to her everyday activities. SHe does it because she wants to; because she needs to.
In a news story about her reported years ago she was quoted as saying; “I have diabetes, diabetes is not who I am.” The quote was unsolicited or prompted, it came from her. At the time she was nine years of age.
She understands this disease more than most. She lives with the same fears as anyone who has diabetes, yet still; she moves her life forward as few others. Diabetes is not who she is.
What she has done in her short 23 years is much more than many. For those of you who have children with diabetes let me share a few highlights for you to share with your children how diabetes should stop them from nothing.
By age six she was giving herself her own shots (her parents would measure it out) and checking her own blood sugar; because she wanted to do it. By age 8 she was measuring her insulin shots and injecting herself because she wanted to.
She wanted to play softball when she was younger, and she did just that; she was not the best on the team but she surely tried as hard as anyone else. Diabetes was not going to get in her way and didn’t in softball or when she played soccer, because she wanted to.
She sang in recitals and played an instrument, because she wanted to do it.
She was an advocate and spokesperson for diabetes causes in schools and in other places because she wanted to.
She become a girl scout and from the onset; she wanted to become ‘Gold’; the highest award/rank bestowed upon these young ladies; and she achieved that goal.
In high school she wanted to be a class officer; and she became one.
She volunteered at a diabetes camp because she wanted to.
She ‘letter-ed’ in a varsity sport (for the only reason she thought it was the only thing missing in her high school life).
She was a member of her high school Homecoming Court and the Senior Prom Court.
She decided on her college and she went.
Diabetes never went away, she did everything in her life balancing the high blood sugars and collapsing from the low blood sugars.
She become an EMT and also joined the volunteer forces of her neighborhood ambulance company spending hours per week on call because she wanted to.
She is preparing herself with continued classes to enter the field of becoming a Physician’s Assistant.
She has helped out at Children with Diabetes conferences for some time now.
And diabetes has not gone away.
In the middle of it all, her younger brother was diagnosed with T1 also and she has become more than a mentor to him.
In the middle of it all her older brother became engaged, and she has been asked to be in the bridal party.
Holidays, events; Life. Diabetes has not gone away.
She is not perfect. She makes mistakes and no one is harder on her for those mistakes than she. She can be as stubborn as……well……her father; who is me.
The ‘unfairness’ about diabetes is what drives me to fight like hell in anything I do to make sure this special young lady lives to 101. My drive is as focused today as it was the day she was born as it was the day she was diagnosed.
Beyond everything, EVERYTHING, I’m single-focused. To make sure diabetes does not win in our house. Better education and better management tools until such time as we find a cure; which is closer now than I have ever seen it. I entered this battle for one person; I will leave this battle because of two.
And today is the birthday of one of them. She can aggravate me, annoy me, and frustrate me with things she does but she also is the little girl I carried, I sang to, and give a special kiss (KKNN) when I see her and when I leave. She is the reason I entered this battle and her strive to live life to the fullest is why I stay at it no matter what else happens; which all becomes secondary.
So perhaps it is appropriate that I am over 3000 miles from her today, her birthday, because I am doing what I promised her; trying to make this world a better place because diabetes has not gone away. And ‘gone away’ will happen too; because we want it to, more than anything else—I look forward to that birthday gift one day becoming a reality.
Happy birthday Kaitlyn; daddy loves you. (KKNN)
I am a diabetes dad.
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