Monday, September 15, 2008

A Diabetic Rite of Passage

It was inevitable. We were warned about this by our diabetes nurse in hospital when Jenna was just diagnosed. I wasn't the least bit phased by it at the time, but now that it has happened, my heart hurts for my little girl.

The tips of Jenna's two index fingers have developed little callouses from the constant pokes with the lancet to test her blood sugar. My two and a half year old, beautiful little girl now sports the trademark of a seasoned diabetic.

I know it isn't that big a deal, and I am without a doubt thankful for my blessings. It could be so much worse. But still I feel that familiar feeling of sadness that I felt so acutely upon her initial diagnosis every time I push that spring loaded trigger button and squeeze out her precious blood, drop by ever-loving drop.

When Jenna was first diagnosed, I remember friends and family saying that if she had to get diabetes, better now while she is so young. I remember at the time feeling both grateful for this small mercy and profoundly saddened by it at the same time. On the one hand, yes it is true that Jenna will be spared having to change habits that had been years in the making and will never mourn the loss of her far less complicated,pre-diagnosis days. But on the other hand, how tragic that she will never know what it's like to occasionally eat with reckless abandon, or to run out the door to play with only the clothes on her back and not have to worry about packing glucose tabs or her glucometer with her, not to mention her ever-present insulin pump strapped to her little waist.

The thought that really gave me pause was the one that popped into my head within the first 24 hours of her diagnosis; My daughter can't survive without the help of modern medicine. Jenna is sentenced to a lifetime of being a heavy consumer of pharmaceuticals for her very survival. She will never know any different.

Jenna is becoming more curious about her diabetes. She is asking questions and making statements, looking for confirmation and reinforcement, saying things like, "I have diabetes, right? I need my pump, don't I?" I know she is attempting to understand and deal with it all. I also know that this is just the tip of the ice burg. Over the years there will be many more of Jenna's questions to answer and emotions to feel and they aren't all going to be as positive and accepting as they seem to be now.

I guess in the grand scheme of things a couple of little callouses isn't the end of the world. But to me they represent all the pain, and trials Jenna has had to overcome and everything she has yet to endure throughout her life with diabetes. And because of that my heart breaks a little everytime I look upon those precious little two year old fingers.

...but the testament they are to her strenth and courage is what makes me fill to bursting with pride.


Kerri. said...

Hi Sherry,

I wanted to drop by and say hello, and thank you for blogging. I've been a type 1 diabetic for 22 years now and even though I've lived with this myself for so long, I am always in awe of the parents who take care of kids with diabetes. You guys are the heroes in our lives, and I marvel at your strength and ferocity in dealing with this disease.

I also have a diabetes blog - I saw that you have it in your blogroll, thank you for listing me! - and I'd love to keep in touch and offer any help, should you need any. My best to Jenna, and to you.

-- Kerri.

Sherry said...

Thanks for your kind words of encouragement. I enjoy reading your blog and hope that one day in the years to come, your wisdom and experience will be available to Jenna too. I'm sure there will be times when she will need to know she isn't alone in what she is going through.

You thanked me for blogging and I must thank you too for writing your blog. You are a pleasure to read and have helped me on more than one occasion to feel reassured and comforted.

I would very much like to stay in touch and appreciate your offer to help if needed. I just may take you up on that!

Warm regards,