Well, it’s been just more than 2 years and 9 months since “that day.” The day that I was sure that Adam had a bladder infection because he repeatedly left the movie theater to go to the bathroom…and then later kept running to the bathroom during drills at basketball practice. That just wasn’t like him. But after a urinalysis, the doctor said, “There’s no bacteria in his urine. (Pause.) But there’s a whole lot of sugar.” “What? How much sugar?” “More than 1,000mg.” “How much SHOULD there be?” “Zero.” “Oh, my.” And I knew where he was going with that.
In some ways, it seems like forever ago. Because even though our lives have evolved dramatically to accommodate Type 1 Diabetes, they have also stayed quite a bit the same. We still get up and go to school in the morning, still argue over piano practice, still study spelling lists, still go play at a friend’s house, and still cheer REALLY hard during Adam’s soccer, basketball, and baseball games. But yes, it seems like just yesterday that we didn’t have to worry about having enough insulin on hand (which reminds me…I need to call the pharmacy today) or an extra box of infusion sets and blood glucose meter in the car. Or a bottle of maple syrup in every classroom at school…”just in case.” Or a time when I didn’t need to buy two kinds of Gatorade…a low-sugar for actually hydrating during games and a high-sugar for drinking urgently in the middle of them.
But one thing definitely hasn’t changed at all. In fact, it’s grown even stronger. And that’s the love and sacrificial dedication that a mother has for her child. This is what mothers do. Yet, I still learn on occasion at the endocrinologist’s office that some mothers don’t. WHAT?! They tell me that some mothers say, “It’s her disease. She’ll just have to learn the hard way that she has to take care of herself.” And even though there’s totally some truth to that, for me, “learning the hard way” means they chose to wear shorts to school on a winter day or refused to tie their shoes before going out to play. Cold legs and skinned knees are reversible. Hugs, warm blankets, Band-Aids, and a short lecture usually fix those. But T1D can’t just be “fixed.” It takes constant attention, care, reminders, support, carb-free snacks on hand, and an enormous dedication that WE WILL (DO OUR BEST TO) STAY ON TOP OF THIS. It’s do-able. Well, mostly. And when I really figured that out, I took a deep breath, increased the sincerity of my prayers, and inserted faith. Oh, how I remember the first day I dropped Adam off at school after the diagnosis. I cried desperately. I knew I could keep him safe in my presence, but without me? I had already educated the school staff and written out the exact dosage of insulin for his lunch, made sure there were no “birthday treats” coming to school that day, and had back-up plans in place. But he was without ME. So, I prayed. “Heavenly Father, he’s your son first. When I can’t be with him, please watch over him. Please take care of him.” And then I knew we could do this. One day at a time. With my husband, my two other children, the support from caring medical staff, and the Lord, we could do this. So, I drove all the way home and got ready for work. Moms of new T1D patients, you can do this. We don’t do it alone. We have each other, and we have God and our savior Jesus Christ. There are all sorts of tools and ideas (and even clothing to help our children wear their pumps more easily!) and success stories and support out there. Don’t shrink; reach out. We are here for you. I am here for you.
Today, Adam is ultra-involved. He dreams of playing basketball in the NBA, is a ferocious goal keeper on his soccer team, and is carrying on a generational love for the game of baseball. He is student body president, recently gave his first talk in church, just won an essay contest, and prays daily for the opportunity to be a missionary one day. So, T1D hasn’t slowed him down. It does make him trip and stumble on occasion (what do you mean your pump says “No Delivery”? There’s no time to change the tubing! We’re already running late!), but it’s teaching us patience, humility, reliance on the Lord, long-suffering, compassion, and love. And T1D will go away one day, whether it’s through a man-made cure, an amazing new fuss-free management technology, or through a perfect, resurrected body. But the character we are building because of it is something we will keep forever. I’m highly doubtful I will ever really be “grateful” for diabetes, but if that’s what life has handed us, then we choose to let it mold us into something better than we were. And you can too. Hang in there.