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Looking Back: Special Sib of a D-Kid Day.

There are a lot of people with diabetes, and those caring for people with diabetes (like parents and spouses) who have found community here in the DOC.  But a group that's generally quieter is the sibling crew, the ones who grew up alongside those of us who have diabetes.  Today is Special Sib of a D-Kid Day (started on Alexis's and Sherry's blogs), and today I'm revisiting a post from 2010 to mark the occasion:

I <3 my brother and sister.

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.


My older brother and I were diagnosed at the age of 12. My poor little sister was terrified to turn 12 (and only admitted this to us years after). Thankfully, she has still dodged the diabetes bullet. She was a wonderful support for my brother and I and still is today.

Being your sister youve taught me alot about diabetes and i support you in everything you do and will continue to support you....I love you very much and im very thankful to have a sister as strong as yourself...love Courtney.....

I didn't even know about this special day! My non-D child wants diabetes--not for the attention, but just because it would feel "more fair." I kind of feel the same way.

But until then, we will secretly gobble down the chocolate covered pretzels before the D child comes home from school!

Thanks for this post. I'm going to ask my sibs this weekend how my diabetes affected them. I've never heard from any of them about this. And I have 11 of them! I don't remember anything changing when I was diagnosed. . . Maybe because I was 17?

I was once the non-D sibling of a diabetic brother. For 10 years he got all the attention and I was jealous. Then I turned 12, and I was diagnosed too. I understood, then. We've been good support for each other since. Our sister has dodged the bullet, thankfully.

Wow. This one brings back memories. I've been on both sides of this topic. My sister was diagnosed T1 when she was 9 yrs. old (I was 10). I remember the fear and anxiety, that soon gave way to guilt, anger and helplessness. Most of all I remember the helplessness. I tried to balance learning everything I could so I could help, with staying out of the way so she could get the care that she needed. I remember hiding my 'normal kid' sugary stuff in all the places listed above and feeling so guilty about ever going to retrieve them. I remember the unintentional feelings of being pushed aside to make room for her care. And I remember the full out panic of waking up to her going through a low seizure and wondering if I was ever going to get to see her again. Twenty years later and I have tears rolling down my cheeks just thinking about it. The scars from those emotional roller coaster days still run pretty deep.
I wasn't diagnosed until 13 years later. Now I'm a father to 'normal kids' (and I thank heaven every day for that). I see them lovingly learning everything that they can about daddy's diabetes and putting up with my good and bad days (and even a few low seizure days) with a grace that inspires me to do everything I can to give them the childhood they deserve. I'm glad to learn that there is a day put aside for siblings (...children?) of diabetics and will definitely be marking my calander for it. The siblings go through so much, and often times unnoticed, pain and really deserve a day for themselves.

A disease like diabetes can make a person stronger. But whenstill a child that is a different question.

Life has come full circle for me in ways I never thought imaginable. As a sib of a brother who struggled with and died of cancer, I was alone and without attention. I always thought I'd write about that defining experience. But Charlo's T1D diagnosis offers me an opportunity to be the mom I didn't have. I carry my sadness about Ms. C's disease with me but less laden than my mom did - for my son. I understand the isolation, guilt, grief, and pain sibs go through and want my son to know how deeply important and gifted he is as an individual, family member, and growing young man. None of us are defined by this disease - an evolution from what I knew as a kid and struggle with to this day. Siblings carry so much, most of which is unheard. Let their voices ring!

What a great post. As a sibling of a sister diagnosed with Type 1 when she was 4 and I was 5, your story is a mirror of mine. Fresca and Tab replaced the other sodas we knew before and nutritious snacks became the norm. What a GIFT! We learned to enjoy healthy foods! Unfortunately, my sister lost her life to Diabetes at the age of 22. Several years later I gave birth to a beautiful son who, at the age of 11 months, was diagnosed with Type 1. With glucose monitors, pumps and much more knowledge of how carbs and insulin function in the body, nothing is off limits in our home. That being said, we are a Vegan family and junk food takes on a very different and more nutritious meaning than back in the time of my childhood.
Families living with a person with Diabetes ROCK! It takes a team to help people with Diabetes live full, healthy and fun lives.

I love your blog!

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