Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Year To Be Thankful For

Ahh... it's good to be back. I've been away too long and I've missed my little vent sessions. So much has happened this past year and with the New Year only 26 hours away, I'm feeling the need to stop and reflect; to take stock of what we've learned as a family and how we've grown. For me this has been a year of great gain. I am leaving 2008 a wiser, more grateful and more humble person than I was at it's beginning.

If I had one wish... well... you know what it would be. But Jenna's diagnosis has taught us a great deal. It has allowed us the opportunity to see just how strong we are as individuals and as a family. I'm in awe of Jenna's strength and courage and at such a young age! She isn't phased in the least by her blood sugar checks anymore. Oh sure, once in a while, to exert some control over the situation she'll dodge the lancet. But it isn't for fear of the poke anymore. And her infusion changes are being done without EMLA now, at her request. Seems the Tegaderm dressings we were using to cover the cream was rather uncomfortable when it was removed. She has opted to have infusion set changes done without any numbing and handles them like a pro!

We had an Endo appointment on December 18 and her HgA1c is a very sweet 7.5. Kate, our nurse, was anxious to look at the log book we use to record all of Jenna's blood sugars and boluses to ensure Jenna wasn't having too many low episodes in light of such a good number. Of course she wasn't. It has been our diligence and pump fluency that have gotten us such good results. The time we invested early on in the pump start up is paying off and Jenna is enjoying pretty good blood sugars as a result.

Kate was impressed with how well Jenna is coping with all the blood sugar checks and commented on the type 2 diabetics she works with. Many of them neglect to check their blood sugars because, "...it hurts." She said that she wishes she could introduce them to some of the children with type 1 she has in her practice like Jenna that have those checks performed multiple times a day, often by themselves and without complaining.

Which leads me to something else I've been witness to this year and that is the incredible resilience and strength of children. When it comes to adaptability and prevailing through adversity, they have much to teach adults. Children seem to be able to venture out of their comfort zone easier. And that really is the key to growth and learning. One has to be prepared to endure some discomfort to achieve things. Any athlete will attest to that. In fact, anyone who has accomplished anything extraordinary would probably agree. Maybe that's why children do so much growing and learning in such a small amount of time. They are constantly challenging themselves and taking risks. Adults aren't nearly as willing to take risks and be challenged. Perhaps that is why type 2 diabetes is on such a marked rise. Too many adults are clinging to their comfort zones in the form of comfortable chairs in front of the TV, comfort foods, and all other creature comforts that keep them sedentary and ultimately cause a decline in health. I feel grateful for being given an opportunity to witness and celebrate this strength in my children and be inspired by it.

I'm also grateful for the team my husband and I have become through this. I have read about how much the challenge of managing a child's diabetes is not always evenly shared by parents. Often it is the mother that shoulders most of the responsibility. But I am lucky to have a partner in parenting that takes as much of the responsibility as I do.

I am thankful to have been blessed with my oldest daughter, Jazmine, who's 5 year old heart and capacity for compassion rivals that of many adults. At times I am left stunned by her insightful, kind and gentle way. She is such a good big sister to Jenna and has even comforted me on occasion when she sensed I needed it.

I'm grateful for the network of people I have met, mostly on line, who also live with this disease. Whether they are parents of children with diabetes or adults that have lived with diabetes since they were children, we are all in it together. We all have many and varied experiences but we can relate to one another and feel compelled to celebrate each other's little victories and support one another through the setbacks. I truly am surprised at how much I found I needed to reach out to others who know what it means to be the parent of a type 1 diabetic. I usually like to handle my personal struggles as independently and privately as possible. I couldn't shoulder this one alone though.

I am thankful for the first white Christmas we here on Canada's west coast have had since the late 90's! It was so beautiful.

Finally, I find that in spite of still having moments of sadness that sweep over me like a powerful wave of water when I recall the day that Jenna was diagnosed, I am more thankful than ever for what I have and more optimistic about what the future holds for people living with type 1 diabetes. I'm making a conscious effort to take things one day at a time and not think too much about how my girls will handle all that life has to throw at them in the years to come. It's hard to do at times, but I'm trying.

Happy New Year and may 2009 be full of promise and goodness for all of us.

Thursday, December 25, 2008