Guest Post: A Family Affair.
I wish I had the chance to meet up with Traci when Chris and I were out at Sundance in January, but our schedules never synced up. But thankfully, she's offered up her words as a guest post today, and I'm grateful to have her filling in with her perspectives on being the wife of a person with type 1 diabetes.
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I remember sitting on that hard plastic chair in the doctor's office. The list of things we had to do before the wedding just running through my head. And you, so calm, but running your thumb softly over my knuckles. You knew what he was going to say. You had been living with this disease for so many years. I only thought I knew. I had worked with patients on the floor of the hospital who had diabetes. I got this. I understood this. A quick glance from you reassured me that we were going to be okay.
The doctor came in and sat down in front of us, paused for a minute and then looked at the chart sitting on his desk. He cleared his throat and then said, "First off, let me give you two my congratulations. However, I wanted to meet with you both, but most especially you Traci because there are some things that you need to know--that you will want to know as your marriage progresses. Diabetes will largely be your husband's responsibility, but you will find that it will become a family affair and you will have a large part in it as your marriage progresses."
And then came the lecture. The fact that Scott had had diabetes for over 20 years and had no long term effects at the time. The fact that I had to look forward to thyroid problems, kidney problems, amputations, and impotence?? (Is that word even in a soon to be newlywed's vocabulary??) I left armed with a dictionary sized amount of carb counting materials, diabetes booklets, and the smiley and sad faced chart that showed what signs and symptoms of hypo and hyperglycemia were.
The starry filled eyes of early marriage began to wane into the look of silent long term understanding, disappointment, and joy we came to recognize when we would look at each other.
The silent look we gave each other when we couldn't get health or life insurance because Scott chose to pursue his dream of owning his own business.
The look we gave each other when we found out how much an insulin pump would cost out of our meager newlywed pocketbook wages.
The glance when we were told we couldn't get pregnant for years.
The surprised look when we saw those two dotted lines--a few short months after going off birth control.
Our first baby girl, and a few years later our first baby boy.
Our first house.
Saying good bye to our first house.
And signing for the second.
The comforting look of relief when you wake up and realize that I'm sitting next to you on a bed surrounded by tubing, IV pumps and bright lights after having an insulin reaction.
The tired looks we give each other as we grab not the alarm, but the meter at 3:00 am in the morning.
The weary glances we give each other when another and another and yet another medical bill come in the mail.
The look of pain depending on who got the pleasure of sleeping on the insulin pump most of the previous night.
9 years. Two kids. Two dogs.
Also two hospital admissions, two trips in an ambulance that you don't remember (but for some reason wish you did), and two different career moves. Looking back to 9 years ago when we sat in that same chair that sits in the doctors office today, I wouldn't change any of it. I'm actually grateful for it. And most especially, learning that your doctor was right. Diabetes is something you deal with and manage day to day, but it is a family affair. You are the one that shows me by example everyday that diabetes isn't something that your going to allow to take over your life. You live with it, and you learn from it. And you don't let it define who you are. Our kids have learned lessons on compassion and love that no book, no authority could ever teach them. And I have learned that love isn't just some word you throw around each day. It's much, much deeper than that.
Has it really become a family affair? In small ways I guess. I count the carbs for my dinner or dessert creations that you either happily or willingly try to consume to be nice. I order the insurance supplies and call to question the bills that arrive in the mail. You report about your doctors appointments, manage your day to day care, pump site changes, and invite me to wake you up at 3:00 in the morning to poke you in the event that you forget (which you quite often do, even when your son turns on that bright bathroom light in the middle of the night that you don't seem to notice). I entertain the kids when you have a sick day, hold them while you are taken away by ambulance, and check your blood sugar hourly for two days because you, yourself aren't able to do it. But while the doctor missed a lot of what our life would be like, he missed the most important thing. He never said how much your diabetes would bring us closer together. And I thank diabetes for forcing us to tackle the hard issues we may not have wanted to face, or may have put off. For sitting us down together at a computer each day to write about how we feel. For talking about the trivial and the serious parts of diabetes. And most especially, thank you, diabetes, for making us stronger through the hard times.
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Scott and Traci are owners of the site DiabeticParents.org and write from their separate and combined perspectives on what life with diabetes is like on their blog http://blog.diabeticparents.org. Scott has had Type 1 diabetes since the age of 4 and was diagnosed with Addison's disease at age 19. He works as a sales manager and loves that it allows him to pursue his favorite sport of golf. Traci works with Utah Diabetes and the Faces of Diabetes and owns the site www.BurntApple.com. She teaches cooking classes and does regular appearances on her local television morning shows. They have two kids and two dogs who have this weird belief that they are kids in the family too. And are treated like it.