Diabetes Awareness Month
Thoughts as another awareness month comes to a close
Today is the final day of Diabetes Awareness Month which doesn’t really mean anything to families living with diabetes. I know that might be a strange thing to read but the end of Diabetes Awareness month doesn’t bring an end to anything for families living with diabetes.
These families will go on posting and talking about diabetes. Many of our profile pictures will continue to have a light blue circle in them. We will continue carb counting every meal and administering lifesaving injections of insulin multiple times a day. Questions about the pump attached to our hip will continue. And so many caretakers will go on preparing snacks and lunches as part of a medical equation designed to keep their children alive with little to no praise, relief, or thanks.
These parents are amazing and they show up day after day after day. I see the initial sleepless nights following diagnosis where they are on the Internet doing research between doctor visits and where they are simultaneously playing interpreter, advocate, parent, and nurse. I see them adapt and persevere as the bodies of their little ones change and, as a result, so do their reactions to exercise, food, and medication.
I see the panic in their eyes as they prepare for the first sleepover or weekend with friends. I see divorced couples rally and overcome their differences to put the needs of their family member struggling with this illness first. I see them struggle to trust the job they have done as their child prepares to leave for school. The fear of alcohol and insulin meeting on a college campus. The precarious waters they have tried to navigate of giving their child independence, but also keeping them alive.
I see how parents change their savings plans so that their own child never has to make career decisions based on the availability of or access to medications, but rather on their dreams and ambitions. The way they turn around, as soon as they possibly can, to see if there is another family in need of support. I see them give what they can and sometimes what they cannot.
I see them activate for camps, retreats, late night hospital stays, spur of the moment emergency room visits, 504 plans, 5ks, 10ks, and century rides. I see them volunteer and start their own nonprofits. I see them fight. Like bruised, battered, anxious, terrified and courageous scrappers in the 12th round, I see them fight.
I am inspired daily because I see them fight with such conviction. They fight like that because they know there is no better person for the job. No one loves their child more than they do. No one will keep such detailed records. No one else can be guaranteed to rise as quickly, to keep the vials straight, or to know their child’s history.
My heart breaks because they are so often the last to ask for what they need and the first to sacrifice. My plea, on the final day of Diabetes Awareness Month, is that we all take a moment to pay special attention to the caretakers in our lives. Those that love those of us with chronic conditions. That we help them get their oxygen mask on first as they guide us back down to earth. My plea is that we budget in a massage, a movie of their choice, a lunch, a single flower, a bit of extra time to say thank you, or even just to acknowledge what a badass they are.