Today kicks off the sixth annual diabetes blog week. Great thanks to Karen Graffeo over at Bitter Sweet Diabetes for hosting this and arranging all the topics.
Today’s topic is “I Can”. I’m supposed to write about the positive side of diabetes. I signed up to participate in D-Blog week and then today I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to do it. Not that there isn’t anything positive to write about diabetes – because that isn’t the case. I have found a wonderful community of friends – fellow parents of kids with Type 1, adults with Type 1 who are amazing and often inspiring and make me feel like I am doing good with Angelina.
The reason I wasn’t sure if I would be writing this positive post today is because of my own issues. I try not to talk about my own disability on this blog, because while it is a blog about our family and our triumphs and struggles, I have my own blog elsewhere (that is severely neglected) to write about my own issues. However, I wanted to share a bit about myself and how diabetes has helped me say “I can…”
I think I have briefly noted before that I have bipolar disorder. I was diagnosed in 2009 following a week long hospital stay and have been on disability since then. My disability “allows” me to be a stay-at-home mom and have the time and freedom to care for Angelina. Angelina is not the reason I am home, but it doesn’t change the fact that being on disability and currently unable to hold down a paying job has allowed me to claim the primary title of D-Mom. Two plus years ago, a few weeks before Angelina was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes I was signed up to do vocational rehabilitation to re-enter the workforce after 4 years off. Diabetes turned that plan upside down.
At that point in time I had just gotten to the point that just thinking about looking for a job didn’t send me into a panic attack. It had been almost a year since I had had a significant “mood episode” (this is a blanket term for periods of depression or mania, which, for me, can last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months). I had been working for a wonderful therapist for about a year who was helping me to learn how to recognize signs and symptoms of impending episodes and how to cope with the mild symptoms and work on psychologically getting myself into a place that would help prevent the symptoms from worsening. Mood disorders are complicated things though. You can have all the coping mechanisms in the world and still experience moderate or severe mood episodes. Sometimes you just can’t stop it, because at the root, it is chemical. Sometimes you can no more stop a mood episode than you can stop a cold, the stomach flu, or food poisoning. Sometimes there are no warning signs or symptoms and you don’t progress from mild to moderate or severe. Sometimes you are fine when you go to bed and the next morning you can’t make yourself get out of bed. Your brain just shuts down and you don’t have the will power to will power yourself out of it.
But I digress… I didn’t end up doing vocational rehab. Instead, a few weeks later, I learned how to care for a child with diabetes. I learned how to draw up insulin and give shots. I learned how to count carbs and calculate insulin doses. I learned how to keep someone alive whose body wanted nothing more than to kill her. Beyond the vagueness of keeping a child alive that all parents are tasked with by feeding them, clothing them, I literally was tasked with how to keep my child alive on a daily and hourly basis. And I found a purpose.
I never really wanted to be a mom. And then I got pregnant at 18. I gave birth to a practically perfect baby at 19. And at 1 month old she developed eczema. It was quickly apparent that it wasn’t the garden variety eczema that a lot of babies get. We kept being told “She’ll grow out of it in a couple of years”. In a couple years she was officially diagnosed with moderate-persistent asthma. The eczema got worse. She got warts. Not one or two, as kids do. Dozens. Hundreds maybe. Her dermatologists were at a loss. We tried everything. She got kicked out of daycare because it freaked out other parents. And then about a year after the first one showed up, they all went away. All of them.
We saw an allergy and immunology specialist who did allergy testing as well as some pretty extensive immunology testing when she was 3. We found out that allergies were likely at the core of her eczema and asthma. We also found out that she had some levels that were slightly “off” but not really enough to diagnose anything. She wasn’t immune compromised. (I later found out that some of those tests indicated an autoimmune condition, but I didn’t discover it until after she was diagnosed with Type 1 at age 9 1/2 – six years later).
All of these things made life difficult for us, for Angelina. When she was 4 she was hospitalized twice for pneumonia and each year since then she has had pneumonia at least once. The last time she had pneumonia was when she was also hospitalized and diagnosed with Type 1, over two years ago.
All of this information has been given as background for me to say:
Because of Type 1 Diabetes I can…
…Get out of bed. Even when I can’t for anything else. I can and I will get out of bed to take care of Angelina. To keep her alive.
…Take better care of myself, so I am there to take care of her.
…Look past whatever is wrong with me to make things right with her.
…Look at where we’ve been and where we’re going and know that no matter what struggles we have yet to face, we will survive it.
…Take the time to write in this blog, even when I don’t feel up to it. Because I said that I would and even if no one is counting, I made a promise that I intend to keep.
…Be a source of information, compassion, friendship in a way that I never have before. This makes me feel fulfilled in life.
…Feel accomplished at 8am, even when I am still in my pajamas and haven’t brushed my hair or teeth.
…Feel a sense of purpose in my life, even when life seems hopeless.
Lastly, because of diabetes I can… HOPE. Of a brighter future. Of more tomorrows. Of future happiness for myself and for Angelina.