Today is a difficult day. Today I have mixed emotions. On this day last year I took my nine-year-old daughter to the GP, expecting to come home with a prescription for antibiotics. Instead, we were sent straight to hospital and admitted for training in how to manage type 1 diabetes, and life as we knew it was over.
I asked her how she wanted to mark the anniversary of her diagnosis; if she wanted to just forget about it, or if she’d like to celebrate how far she has come since that awful day. She saw it as an excuse to have fun. She wanted to do normal girl stuff, with added treats. So she’s having a sleepover: a couple of good friends, a stuffed crust pizza (god help me surfing the sugar waves on that through the night!), and a movie.
She’s not into the symbolism of the whole thing. For my part though, I wanted to show her quite how impressed I am by her attitude to it all. How knocked-out I am by her determination to not only push through this, but to make her life even better. How bowled-over we all are by her smile. So this picture now sits in a frame by her bed. It’s a marker of how far she has come, and how much she is loved, and respected.
I have spent most of my time this year learning about diabetes management, and coping with the grief of such a diagnosis. If I’d known, when we began this journey, quite how difficult it all is, I’m not sure I could have even begun. But I couldn’t have known. The media is partly to blame, offering untruths and misconceptions that people – myself included – come to believe as fact. But people with diabetes also make light of the relentless daily management they undertake to keep themselves alive and well, because they don’t want others to treat them differently, or judge them.
A while ago, I posted a diary on Facebook of a day in our lives with diabetes. It was a really good day, as it turned out, with pretty good blood glucose results. We have days that are much more difficult to manage, on a regular basis. But the response I got was phenomenal. People read, shared, and commented about how little they had known, and how much they had assumed. They thanked me for sharing, and for educating them about a condition that is becoming alarmingly more common, but no less life-threatening.
And so I decided that my route along this path would change direction. There are incredible fundraisers, but I am not one of them. No, my goal will be to educate, to raise awareness, and to help others understand, so that those with diabetes can feel supported and understood. (Though I am fundraising for a cure here).
Here is the story of a day in the life of a diabetic parent. At the end are the warning signs and symptoms to look out for, so that children you know can be diagnosed before it is too late:
Thank you for reading. Thank you for trying to understand. Thank you for sharing, if you can. Thank you for educating, and for being educated. Thank you for learning and sharing the warning symptoms, so that diagnoses don’t have to be fatal. We were lucky. Today, my beautiful daughter gets on with the business of being ten, with her friends. She continues to smile, and show diabetes that she’s not giving in.
I do have a fundraising page for JDRF, the Type 1 Diabetes charity working for a cure. If you’re feeling generous, I will be running a half marathon in October, and Maddie will be orchestrating a ‘Type Onesie” day at school to raise money – we’d love your support. You can donate here.