Sweets visits the endocrinologist every three months for a check up. She gets yearly labs drawn. If she's lucky. She has been needing labs every six months to check her cholesterol level (that's a story for another time...). She does all the normal stuff, too, like dentist and orthodontist visits and regular pediatrician visits. And she visits the eye doctor once a year to check her eyes for signs of damage due to high blood sugar.
Sweets, however, has been seeing a eye specialist since she was six months old. Jason has some pretty significant vision issues. To make sure that Sweets did not, she visited his specialist when she was tiny. Luckily, she was fine.
He told us that she would most likely need glasses at some point due to Jason's eyes and mine (I got glasses at five.). However, she has always been able to see way better than either of us. So we just kept an eye (hee hee) on her and those yearly eye exams began again at age three when she was diagnosed.
A few weeks ago, we went for our yearly exams. I was thrilled that my eyes actually improved! And we were very happy to hear that Sweet's eyes looked good and healthy!
She hopped up into the chair and covered one eye and started to read the chart.
And she got most of them wrong.
Jason and I just looked at each other. We knew what that meant. And we knew it was coming... we just didn't expect it that night.
"Well, Kiddo..." her doctor said. "Welcome to the club! You need glasses!"
"How is she going to handle this?" I wondered. She always likes to try on the frames while we are there but playing and actually needing them are two different things. How is she going to feel about wearing something else???
I didn't have to worry long. Sweets was THRILLED!
She immediately got to run out and try on frames while we waited for our eyes to dilate. She picked out a very cute pair of Vera Bradley glasses that matched her bookbag. Of course.
She was super excited to show them off to her friends!
But she had to wait...
Because the next morning she had an orthodontist appointment before she went to school.
To get BRACES.
Back in August, she got a spacer. It's done an incredible job. In fact, it's worked perfectly and it's job is done. All she has left is to wear braces on her top four permanent teeth for a few months.
She was NOT as thrilled about this.
The spacer was difficult and uncomfortable. She refused to eat for about a week. She was afraid the braces would be worse. And she was worried she was going to look weird and that it would ruin her smile.
Getting glasses isn't easy.
Getting braces isn't easy.
Getting both in less than 24 hours is crazy.
And when you've already got an insulin pump and continuous glucose monitor that you wear 24 hours a day, every. single. day...
That's a lot.
That's a lot for anyone. But it's especially a lot for someone who just turned nine.
As a mommy, I worry. How is she going to handle all this? Why does she have to deal with so much? Why can't her eyes just be good and her teeth just be straight? Why does she need ONE MORE THING???
But you know what?
It was harder on me than her.
She was a total rockstar.
The braces ended up being easier and less painful than the spacer.
And they - and the glasses - were a huge hit at school!
She came home all happy because everyone wanted to sit by her at lunch and see all her new stuff.
Honestly, I shouldn't be surprised by this. If I've learned anything over the past few years it's that Sweets is one tough cookie. If diabetes doesn't keep her down, why in the world would a pair of glasses and a few braces?
She's a lot stronger than I realize.
And more perceptive.
Because just as I thought she was ok with all this, she asked...
"So only a few months and I get the braces off, right?"
"Yes" I said. "The doctor said only 5-6 months."
"Ok... Do I have to wear the glasses forever?"
"Yes... Well, sort of. He said to wear them at school. You don't have to wear them at home unless you want to. "
"But I'll need them forever?"
"Yes... I mean, one day you might decide to wear contacts like me. But you will most likely always need them to help you see."
"Ok. So that's like diabetes. It's there forever."
She's just trying to figure it all out. To make sense of it all.
She wasn't upset about it. It was all very matter of fact.
But for me... Sometimes it's hard to watch her comes to terms with a chronic illness means as she's growing up and getting a better understanding of forever.
She is still happy with her new glasses and happy that the braces are only there for a short time (while making her look very grown up and more like a teenager than a nine year old).
And I'm super proud of her.
For not letting ONE MORE THING get her down.
For taking it all in stride.
For being much tougher than the teenage boy who was getting braces at the same time and spent quite a few minutes hanging over the sink because he thought he was going to get sick.
And for being her confident little self.
I hope that diabetes has helped her see that who she is is not dependent on her physical appearance. Just as a pump and cgm don't change her worth... neither does glasses and braces.
That's a pretty deep lesson to learn. But as I watch her navigate all these new robot parts, I think she's doing an incredible job.
While I'd never wish this disease on anyone, I'm very thankful that we have - at least for now - found a way to use it and it's lessons for good. And that the person it is helping shape her into is one who filled with confidence and beauty and strength.
Cheer Banquet the night she got her braces!