Late: Special Sib of a D-Kid Day.
I'm late to the party on this one, but I thought this was a great awareness initiative taking place across the diabetes blogoshere (and starting on Alexis' and Sherry's blogs:): Special Sib of a D-Kid Day.
I realize I am no longer a diabetes kid, but I used to be one. And my siblings are still my siblings, no matter how old I get.
I don't have a clear recollection of life immediately after diagnosis, but I know back in 1986, food choices ruled the roosts of diabetes households. Once the vials of insulin moved into our refrigerator's butter compartment, gone were the Twinkies and Ring Dings and Yodels (and other snack foods comprised of 1/2 a gram of actual nutrient and then a whole pile of crap). Our eating patterns changed as a family, and Diet Pepsi and food scales replaced the snack cupboard of days gone by. My mother hid the ice cream sandwiches in the hollowed out box of broccoli in the freezer. She had packages of E.L. Fudge cookies hidden between the sweaters stacked in her closet. She was a food-hoarding squirrel, with delicious treats in every obscure corner.
For me, this was a smart approach that removed a lot of temptation (and also presented some very furtive treasure hunts with tasty rewards), and one that helped to keep me safe and healthy. But for my brother and sister, both with perfectly capable pancreases (pancrei?), the lifestyle change wasn't necessary. Didn't they get to have snacks, still?
What I failed to realize is that my diabetes didn't have to be my brother and sister's diabetes. There was so much about their lives as the siblings of a child with diabetes that I couldn't even wrap my head around. I didn't know what it was like to have your sister come home and play host to something no one could see, yet gained so much attention (for better or for worse). I've talked to some siblings of kids with diabetes and heard about the guilt. "I felt bad for wishing I was sick, too, because I was jealous of the attention." Or the worry. "Was I going to get diabetes, too?" Or the anger. "I am sick of her diabetes being the sole focus of our family." Or just plain fear. "Will diabetes hurt my sibling?"
Diabetes is a disease that affects the whole family. It's not just the person who is receiving the injections or pump infusion sets or finger pricks that's carrying the full weight of diabetes. I don't know if my brother and sister understood what "diabetes" meant when I was first diagnosed, and if any of us understood just how big the words "without a cure" really felt. But I know that we learned about diabetes as a family, and dealt with it the same way.
In honor of Special Sibs of D-Kids, I raise a contraband Ring Ding to you in solidarity. You guys are a very compassionate, understanding, and patient group, and we, as your diabetic brothers and sisters, are very grateful to have you in our lives.