I thought of writing a letter to diabetes for day two of D-Blog Week. But I have a policy regarding excessive profanity on my blog. (Total bullshit, but it sounded so damned admirable, didn’t it?) Besides, after my blog post last week itemizing thirty things I hate about this disease, I’m in need of a little love. What better way to feel the love than to write a love letter to my precious little girl.
I saw what kind of incredible stuff you are made of when you were only just barely two years old. It ripped my heart out to watch you have to be so very brave. You were still my little baby girl - still in diapers. We had been making some progress with potty training in the months leading up to your diagnosis. But the onset of diabetes stalled things for a while.
We had to place cotton balls in your diapers in the hospital to collect your urine to check for ketones. And there were always ketones. So much ketones. The nurse in me knew what that meant; you had poison in your blood because of the fat you had to burn for energy because you couldn’t make enough insulin. And my heart continued to ache with every ketone strip that told the tale of a little girl who had come too close to disaster. You grew up so fast during those few days after your diagnosis.
It hasn’t been easy, these past three years. The first year was the worst. I immersed myself in the management of your diabetes. My aim was to study it, like a warrior studies his enemy. I wanted to know this beast that had forced itself into our lives. I wanted to try to learn its every quirk and nuance. So I read books. I studied the numbers that I carefully recorded in notebooks which I have kept to this day - documenting with great care your blood sugars, what you had eaten and how much insulin I had given you. I poured over the data looking for trends and clues as to what to expect. I now know that you can study the numbers all you want; diabetes will often contradict all that you think you know.
Looking back I think that first year of diabetes immersion served two very important purposes: It helped me to do what I had set out to accomplish - to learn as much as I could about your diabetes, and it served as a diversion from the ache that was ever present in my chest. I was grieving - grieving the loss of a “healthy" child without any physical challenges.
I was all business during the day, going about my busy daily routine of being mother to two little girls - one with diabetes. It was an excellent distraction. But at night, after I’d put you and your sister to bed, tuck you both in with stories and kisses and a bed time blood sugar check, I’d sit in the kitchen with my cup of tea and far too much time to think, remembering the way life before diabetes was for you - for us. So much simpler. Less physical trials. Less worry.
On your first year after your diagnosis, your “diaversary” as it is affectionately called by the DOC, I wrote how acceptance had taken place. But in all honesty, and in the clarity of hindsight, I can say that it was still quite raw for me then. I can remember, at the time, feeling the lump forming in my throat as I typed that statement. I was trying to convince myself of it. I didn’t want to complain or seem ungrateful for what I had.
But now, almost three years have passed. We just celebrated your fifth birthday. You have grown so much. Diapers, along with the our pre-diagnosis days, are a dim memory. You ride a two-wheeler (albeit with training wheels, but a two-wheeler nonetheless!) You choose your own clothes and often your fashion choices impress the heck out of me. Okay, sometimes they scare me a little too with the juxtaposition of patterns and colours, but that just makes me all the more proud of the strong-minded individual you clearly are. Oh my goodness, are you strong minded! Strong-willed...strong everything.
You are more than capable of checking your own blood sugar (when you want to) and you can even read the number on the meter! You are so tall - tall for your age. You can help yourself to snacks in the fridge and you always let me know when you want to eat something so I can carb count for you (I’m pretty sure you do, anyway.)
Site changes are old hat. Remember when they were torture? You would cry so much. And my heart would break. Yet again.
But not anymore. You roll up your sleeve, or expose your upper buttock without so much as batting an eye. You. Are. Incredible.
I can recall reading somewhere - I can’t recall where, now - that managing your child’s diabetes does get easier, but it never gets easy. Truer words were never spoken. It really has gotten easier since that first year. By no means is it easy, but it is a part of our lives - woven into the fabric of our family almost seamlessly. We make it look easy to onlookers. And I can say that you have played a significant role in helping me to get to this point. Yes, you have helped me! I’ve watched you muster courage that many adults haven’t had to tap into yet in their life’s journey. I have seen you get tough and accept what is non-negotiable. I have watched as you make conscious decisions regarding food choices based on wisdom that is beyond your five short years on this earth. I have seen you gain an independence in life that fills me with awe and respect for you.
I am so proud of you, my dear little one. You inspire and impress me constantly. Both you and your sister are two of the nicest, most fun, interesting and delightful people I know. I am filled with gratitude that I am the person who gets to be Mommy to you both. I know you are very well equipped to deal with this diabetes hand you’ve been dealt. And I will always be here for you when you need a break. Or a hug. Or someone to eat too much ice-cream with.
I am honoured to be your Mama. I love you endlessly.
All my love,