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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.

Special Sib of a D-Kid Day!  (Was yesterday.  Sorry for being late!)

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.

Comments

I guess I'm somewhat unique (but hardly alone) in that I was a type 3 sibling before I got type 1 myself. I was actually born the year my older sister was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, so I had known about it for as long as I can remember. I can recall some things, mostly just having to go with my parents to the drugstore and buy insulin. Maybe that was a bit lucky because it wasn't really an adjustment for me as a sibling, but it also made my diagnosis a few years later more difficult for my parents and my doctors. My response to the pediatrician was a temper tantrum whereby I kicked the guy screaming that I didn't want a lifetime of needles like my sister; few 7-year olds act that way, mostly they're just confused about the whole thing. But when we're all grown up, our non-D siblings can put their guard down (at least until they see us again at the next holiday or something) and move on, but those of us stuck with diabetes never enjoy that luxury.

Great post, Kerri. I really appreciate your insight.

It would be awesome to read a few posts from adults who were siblings...I'd love to hear their point-of-view today, looking back...and hear any tips they may have for parents who are trying to chart this course today.

Once again, great post.

God bless!

ok. I am so stealing the broccoli box idea! That is awesome. My 4 year old girl always finds my stash when i try to hide it under stuff.

Great post Kerri! Thank you.

Thank you for posting this Kerri. I just read it to my "non-D" kid to help her understand there are other siblings out there (like her) who deal with the same feelings as she does.

It's one thing as a parent to worry about your child with Type 1, but I also worry about what effect this has on my other child, too. I didn't grow up like this and neither did my husband so we can't relate .... I hope she understands why we do the things we do around the house ... but I do understand then when you're a kid, it's sometimes hard to "understand".

We'll write down "Special Sib of a D-kid Day" on our calender for next year (seeing as we missed it this year!). It's important to not forget what it's like for her as well .. :o)

what a beautiful and honest post. As i read all the possible questions these D sibs may have I see my youngest and know those are racing through his mind as well. Thank you for partipating!

Oh I gotta do the broccoli box!!! Thanks for sharing what it means from a perspective of a gal with diabetes. I wonder what it does to G's other sisters and how they feel or will feel as they grow. Raising physically healthy kiddos is just as important as mentally and emotionally healthy ones, to me.

What a great day to have! My little guy is almost four, and already comes diligently to me and says "Mom, Leah's pump is beeping!" when my daughter's CGM alarm is sounding and she decides to ignore it. When she was still on MDI, he would ask at every meal "Did Leah get her novolog yet?" It amazes how much he has picked up on already and it's cute he wants to help. Hopefully we can find a balance for both of them, living with D, and as a sib of D.

Kerri, tomorrow my 20 year old and I remember 8 years ago.... The day of dx. Who forgets that? The journey is incredible, with mix of laughter and tears. Most importantly , growth, new friends , tolerance, patience, and s new career for mom. Thank U for this site and the levity it provides .

Beautiful post for kids with diabets and brothers and sisters. I need to do this day with my family next year even though none of us live together anymore! Maybe it will make us closer?

My brother had moved out by the time I got diabetes. I don't know if I would include him in this club. He did try to poke his finger with a lancet once! :P

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