I was diagnosed when I was two years old. Technology at that time was nowhere near what it is today. Blood Sugars were recorded on a monthly chart, day by day, hour by hour. On average, people with Type 1 Diabetes, or Juvenile Diabetes, test their blood sugar 6-10 times. I started using an insulin pump when I was 15. It is a device that is constantly attached to my body by way of an insertion set and tube, which pumps insulin into my bloodstream all day long. Being diagnosed at age 2 means – I don’t know any different. For me, this is my life, but it also comes with daily challenges. Challenges that are not just for me, but my husband and son, too.
As of today, my T1 diabetes footprint looks like this:
Currently, diabetes has no cure, only daily management. Diabetes costs thousands of dollars a year for a family member living with this disease. Medical appointments, insulin and device supplies are often all out of pocket until deductibles are met, which can sometimes be six months into the year.
My diabetes is no longer just about me. It’s about my family. It’s about teaching my children what it looks like to live with diabetes. It’s about teaching my son that just because I have diabetes, doesn’t mean I can’t do something. I may just have to work a little harder at it or take some extra steps.
Having diabetes for [nearly] all of my life has given me the strength to fight for my health. But having the opportunity to be a mother has given me a reason to fight. I want to be here for them.
The statistics of a Type One Family look like this:
- I am the mother who packs a snack for every errand we are running, even if it’s to the grocery store.
- I am the mother who can’t always play the entire game and may have to eat the snack that my children so desperately want, because the value of my blood sugar numbers determines how valuable I can be to my children the rest of the day.
- We are the parents teaching our three-year-old about daily medications, needles, insulin and warning signs for if mommy’s numbers are low.
- I have a husband who always checks if I’ve “had a snack” before bed, worrying about not waking up in the morning.
- I am the mother who’s always beeping at playgroup or in work meetings. Only, it’s not my phone. It’s the device attached to my body that’s keeping me alive.
- I am the mom who has to juggle more doctors’ appointments than multiple children combined
- The mom who is tired in the morning from lack of sleep, not because my children won’t sleep, but because I was chugging a glass of juice at 2AM. My husband waking me at 3AM to test again, and again at 4AM – only to now be treating a high blood sugar and the alarm going off at 5:30AM, when I really should have started my day.
- I am the mom who is still struggling to lose the baby weight because between treating the lows from working out; cutting carbs to drop a few only to have to eat a days’ worth in one serving to bring my numbers back up in normal range; and dealing with the depression of not meeting a weight goal.
- We are the family teaching our son how to cook together and eat more vegetables, because the reality of eating out of a paper bag multiple times a week is a recipe for high blood sugar all evening because of carbohydrate overload.
- I am a mother constantly worried when my son seems “extra thirsty” or overly lethargic that he may have inherited my useless pancreas.
- We are a family who is constantly teaching and showing our son that “everyone is different” and some people need to take different medicine every day or use tools to keep their bodies healthy.
It is not something that can be hidden. It is a disease that very much effects the reality of our everyday schedules.
But, does it make us that different from other families?
I really don’t think so.
Maybe that’s because my parents raised me to believe that just because I had diabetes, didn’t mean I couldn’t do or be anything I wanted. It just meant my daily life would look a little different. But then again, isn’t that what we’re striving to teach our children now anyway?
According to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), 5 million people in the United States, are expected to have T1D by 2050; including nearly 600,000 youth.
Take a moment and educate yourself, by reading these simple myths and facts about Type 1 Diabetes or these Type 1 diabetes quick facts from the JDRF website. With the statistics increasing yearly, you, one of your children, or someone you know could be diagnosed with diabetes.
Or if one or more of your children have friends, classmates, or teammates, talk to them about what diabetes means. Check out some of the great blog posts from JDRF’s typeonenation, as a way to get your family involved in supporting Type 1 diabetics.
There is so much more to Type 1 diabetes than what’s on the surface. It is time we educate others so we can all help support other families living with Type 1 diabetes.