Questions About Growing Up with Diabetes.
No WAY could I ever claim to "counsel" parents of kids with diabetes. I'm not an expert, I'm not a doctor of any kind, and I don't have the first clue as to what I'm doing 90% of the time.
So. That being said, I will admit that I've emailed with lots of parents of kids with diabetes, and I've gotten so much out of that glimpse into what it's like to be the parent of a CWD. Not counseling, but listening. And learning. Talking with these different parents has given me a whole new level of respect for what my mother and father did for me, growing up, and how I view my diabetes as a result of their care.
Over the weekend, I received a few questions from a parent that I couldn't quite wrap my head around. They were big questions, the kinds that require coffee and one of those old school composition notebooks (and a phone call to my mom) to sort out in my head. Here's my take on this mom's questions about growing up with diabetes:
How well did your parents do in managing your diabetes until you were able and independent?
I can't say my parents did anything short of remarkable work when it came to my diabetes. And that goes for every parents of a CWD that I've met in the last few years. I was diagnosed just before second grade, and my family didn't know anything about type 1 diabetes, let alone that it could ever effect their daughter. They brought me to the hospital and stayed there with me for 12 days, learning how to inject insulin into oranges using syringes that they would eventually plunge into my own skin.
My mother, in particular, took her role as "my pancreas" very seriously, and worked tirelessly to control my difficult blood sugars. She tested me every morning when she first woke up, the sound of the ziiiiip on the black meter case stirring me just enough to poke my hand out from underneath the covers so that she could lance my fingertip. She carried measuring cups in her purse and had a food scale in our kitchen. My pancreas wasn't working hard enough, but my mother was.
This isn't to say that we were "perfect" in managing diabetes, or our emotions, or that we had one of those "unicorns and rainbows" types of relationships. My parents and I battled endlessly about all kinds of stuff, from cleaning my bombsite of a room to my propensity to drive too fast to fighting over the boys I wanted to date to the diabetes I didn't want to control all the time. Fights were part of the routine, but it wasn't because of diabetes. It wasn't despite diabetes. Diabetes was just part of the stuff we fought about.
(And on the whole "able and independent" part, I'm still not fully either of those things. I'm able to take care of myself, but I still lean on my parents, and my husband, and my friends for support. And while I'm fiercely independent, I still need, and want, their help.)
Did you resent them?
No. I never resented my parents for any of this diabetes stuff. Not even when I wanted to convince myself that it was hard because they made it hard. Diabetes is hard because it's diabetes. Sure, my mom and I had blow outs about when she would say "We have to test our blood sugar," instead of "You have to test," but I grew to understand how much she was truly involved, even though I wasn't aware enough at the time.
I've resented diabetes, though, which I know is hard for my parents to hear (and to read on this blog). I do not like it, I didn't invite it, and I'd sell it to the lowest bidder without thinking twice. I resent it for making me write To Do lists that a child has no right even worrying about, and I resent it now for making me feel for a kick from BSparl every time I have a blood sugar spike during the course of my pregnancy. But my parents - my whole family and friends support team, honestly - have tempered that resentment for me by supporting me. They don't coddle me, or tell me that "Things will be fine" or "Sure, you can go ahead and not care about diabetes." They understand that this disease is serious. And unfair. And only sort of manageable. But also that it doesn't have to own me. It never has. And it never, ever will.
What is one thing you could tell me to do that will make make this easier on [daughter's name]?
Blame the diabetes, not yourself. Or your child. Let her know that it's you and her against this monster, and you'll always fight beside her, not against her. You're in this together, and she'll never be alone.
But Reader, you'll never be alone, either. You've got all of us. For the long haul. :)
I wanted to give my answers to this mom of a little girl with newly diagnosed type 1 diabetes, but I also wanted to offer these questions up to you guys. To get more than just my perspective, because so many of us have grown up with type 1 diabetes and might answer these questions in completely different, completely honest ways. If you have insight to offer, please do!