Two of the most important people in any child’s life are parents. No one is going to dispute me on this, I hope. We can also add any parental figures to this as well.
They are your initial caretakers, guides, protectors, allies, sponsors—they are your world and you are theirs. They pick you up when you fall, they tell you that everything is going to be OK and they know that you’ll make it past your first bike crash, burn and flu.
Until something happens that can’t be reversed. This is more than a cold that will pass or a fever that will break. This is something that will forever change the way their child will look at the world and the way that they will consider their child’s needs. This will mean excellent health insurance and health care. This will mean a number of checkups and monitoring of daily activities, proper meals and emergency kits, always hoping for the best of days yet knowing that every day is different.
It will mean daily shots, finger pricks, carb counting, understanding what the child is going through and what’s more is the challenge when the child is too young to speak and cannot relay how he or she is feeling. Keeping track, finding patterns, relaying information to not only the doctors but also trying to explain what’s going on to the child, while worrying about everything else that comes with a family is trying and exhausting.
This is what happens when your child is diagnosed with diabetes. The world changes. Not only does the diagnosed child have to learn to manage the disease, so do the parents of that child. The meaning of “it takes a village to raise a child” becomes real and suddenly the life of the child is literally in their parents’ hands.
I was diagnosed at seven years old with Type 1 diabetes. I followed directions from my parents, found it funny when I would start to shake from hypoglycemia and made lowering my blood sugar a game to play every day. I could talk and could tell my mother how I felt. I also know that my mother was very sad at the time. I didn’t understand why, only because I didn’t understand what having diabetes really meant.
As I got older, my mother helped me to understand different aspects to my body and what happened to my pancreas but she could only guess due to the fact that it wasn’t happening in her body but in mine. At the age of 18, she told me to start going to the doctor by myself. From watching the way she talked and trusted in doctors of all kinds, I learned to do the same and ask questions about the tests and numbers they were constantly doing.
Sometimes I find myself thinking about myself and my future children—will they develop diabetes, too? Along with that, will they be born with it and diagnosed at months old as opposed to the way I was diagnosed? What would I do if that was the case?
I can’t imagine what my mother was going through. I don’t understand the feeling of having something “go wrong” in your child that you have to figure out and learn about and then manage. However, I have given both of my parents the props to do what they did and the help to guide me in the right direction. I give all parents a big congratulation for getting through any type of disease with their child.
I don’t know how I would be or what I would be doing without the help I received from my parents. They’re the ones who laid it all out for me and understood that I wasn’t going to let this get in my way and that all they needed was to be there to support me through it all.