When My Coworker Asked If My Life Was Hard Because of Diabetes
I just met a coworker who recently found out that his 10-year-old daughter was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.
He asked me if my life was hard because of my diabetes.
How could I answer that?
How could I tell him that with that diagnosis her life was completely changed? That soon she would measure time as “before diabetes” and “after diabetes.” That his
entire family would be affected by the disease?
How could I tell him that she would have to grow up faster than other kids? That soon she would know a new language comprised of words like carbs, boluses, basal rates, A1C, glucagon, and much more?
How could I tell him that pretty soon she would feel “at home” in hospitals and at doctor appointments? How could I tell him that she would have to be stronger? That she would have to be tough? That pretty soon she will have lost track of how many blood sugar tests she will have done? That soon her fingers would show the toll of those checks?
How can I tell him that each time she eats, they will have to do a series of math calculations? How could I tell him that insulin will keep her alive but it could also kill her if she took too much of it? How could I tell him that a juice box might save her life one day? How could I tell them that they could do everything right, and diabetes might not cooperate that day?
How could I tell him that she would cheat death more times than she could count?
That there would be days where she would want to give up? That there would be days where she would give up. That as a parent, there would be a million times that he would want to take that burden from her. A million and one times.
So I didn’t…
Instead, I told him that she would become a warrior. A fighter. I told him that diabetes is now a part of her — but not all of her. I told him that because of her diabetes, she would know what it’s like to be different and why everyone should be treated with compassion. I told him that because of her diabetes, she would learn to never give up. She would know what it’s like to endure and will learn she is brave.
She will learn to see people first and “disabilities” second. Because of her diabetes, she will learn empathy for others. I told him about my amazing diabetic friends that I have met that are all doing incredible things and just happen to be diabetic. She will learn she is not alone in this fight. I told him that she will learn not to be defined by the disease and she can do whatever she sets her mind to.
I told him that it would get better and that pretty soon diabetes will just be another member of the family. Granted, it would be a crazy, unpredictable, irritating and irrational member of the family, but nonetheless… I told him that each day will bring challenges but also beautiful triumphs…
And then later after I left him, I cried for her.