Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Back to Basics #5 : An Open Letter To Parents of a T1

Dear parent(s), 

To have your youngest child diagnosed with a potentially life threatening disease at the age of four must be terrifying. Period. The thing is, I was that child, I still am and I always will be - to some extent. So take my mutterings for what they are and let me tell you a few things you may not know.

Mum, Dad, shall we go back to basics? Your actions are driven purely out of love. You know that when I screamed, cried and shouted that I was just angry at my situation. The prospect, and now all too familiar reality, of living with diabetes each and every day. Please give credit where it is due, you are doing an awesome job and your child is going to live a great life because of you.

Growing up with T1, I hated my diabetes, we didn't live as one, in harmony or without the hourly disagreement. Diabetes and I did not see eye to eye. Your strength carried me through and still does on my darkest days. I was frustrated with diabetes, I didn't understand it. The instability of the data drove me crazy. All I knew was that the numbers flashing up on my blood glucose reader were not good. Turns out 'HI' means more than just a greeting in the morning. My naivety and your desperation for me to 'just be a child' shielded me from the mundane routine that is type one diabetes. Thank you for giving me that time to be like every other kid.

As a child I took my frustration out on you. I would have tantrums with high blood glucose and cry my eyes out if I were to hypo. "Your sister has got really high blood glucose, she doesn't mean it" I often heard you say to my siblings. I thank whoever is up there that I can channel my emotions in a healthy way now, in a way that doesn't hurt others. You taught me that they are just numbers and they do not (always) reflect your efforts. Did you know that sometimes if you pour enough love into one person, it starts to reflect in their actions? I see that in me from years of your strength and integrity.

I hated maths at school, my mind just doesn't revolve around numbers and data. I could give most a run of their money in terms of analysing data. Diabetes is just one big equation, 'what is the value of x?'
At school my Dad would do my injections for me.. it was all about providing me with more time to be a child, to live as any other would. Once I got to secondary school, you would carb-count my lunch on a post-it note and put it at the top of my lunch box. See it's the little things that make the biggest difference. It's the role of nodding at endo appointments thinking 'we're doing the best we can'. It's stumbling down to your room at 3AM shaking like a leaf yet feeling completely safe because you were right there with me.

In terms of diagnosis, don't worry about having memories spoiled or your child feeling unwell, because I can assure you the initial experience is far worse for you, as the parent. I remember nothing about my diagnosis, of which I am entirely grateful. It was your sleepless nights, first time injecting your toddler and mistaking doses that was the real hard work.

Thank you for teaching me that I am more than diabetes. I am resilient, unstoppable, relentless and strong as a result of your love and positive energy. What I am most thankful for is that this 'higher love' that I talk about, will never end. I know that you will be stood by my side and celebrating my small victories, or even reminding me on the dark days of just how wonderful you think I am.

One day your child will grow up and be able to thank you for all of your efforts. We appreciate you more than you know.

Image result for thank you so much calligraphy

A young adult who is yet to thank her parents.

Twitter: @diabetes_geek
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  1. Thank you so much for this. As a parent of a child with Type 1 we are just hitting the teenage years and it's a whole new ball game. Truth be told I have no idea how to deal with the emotional aspect of it effectively. Your post is inspiring.

    1. Thank you! I hope it provides you with some reassurance. You know where I am if you need me.