I am thankful for diabetes.
Yes, you read it right. I am.
Even though we've been having a tough time of it lately. I'm still thankful.
And I'll tell you why...
But first, I've got to say that it's not easy for me to say that. In fact, I struggle with it quite a bit. It's really HARD for me to come to terms with being thankful for D.... because of Sweets.
It's hard for me to say that I'm thankful for a disease that brings her so much pain and frustration and anger.
It's hard to me to say that I'm thankful for a disease that she will live with forever. Without EVER getting a break.
It's hard for me to say that I'm thankful for a disease that could cause her horrible complications.
It's hard for me to say that I'm thankful for a disease that could take her life. Not in years. Not when she's old and gray. But right now.
It's hard for me to say it. Because I don't always feel it. In fact, I HATE diabetes some of the time. I hate what it does to her. I hate what it can do to her.
In a way, I feel guilty for saying I'm thankful for diabetes because I'm not the one living with the disease in my body.
Being thankful for diabetes forces me to be able to hold conflicting feelings, polar opposites, in fact, in my head at the same time. I hate this disease. I hate what it does to Sweets and I hate what it's taken from her and from us. And yet, I am also thankful for the lessons it's taught us and the things it's brought into our lives.
It would be so much easier if it was just ME with this crap disease. It would be so much better if it was ME with the bum pancreas. If we could keep all the wonderful but spare HER from all the bad. I wish it WAS me. I'd give anything to take this disease from her. (I won't go there - that's another post for another day...)
But it's not me.
And it's not going away.
No matter how much I hate it. No matter how much I wish it gone.
Sweetpea has diabetes. Nothing can change that.
And that only focusing on the parts of this disease that suck (and oh, boy - there are a lot!) isn't going to get us anywhere. In fact, it's only going to make us all miserable. And it's not going to teach her the attitude that I hope she adopts for looking at life in general.
(Side note - as I said in my last post about this topic, I think it's healthy and important to acknowledge ALL of your feelings about diabetes. It's all rainbows and sunshine all the time. And it's ok to say it. But it's also not all storm clouds!)
So, the only thing to do is be THANKFUL for the good parts of life with diabetes!
I love the saying that diabetes is the best club that no one ever wanted to join! It's so true. None of us asked for this life. In fact, we would probably all give it back if we could. (As I said, we've been having a rough go of it lately. Sweets said the other night with tears rolling down her sweet little face, in between hiccuping sobs that she wishes she could just give diabetes back. Me too.) But since we can't....
I am so thankful for the incredible people I've met through this disease. The list is crazy long !
I've met so many incredibly supportive people online -- THE DOC! My facebook friends list is NUTS - and it's all diabetes people! I love being able to go online to facebook or twitter or blogs and read about other people living this crazy life. I love being able to throw out a question - from how many carbs are in a Kraft Mac and Cheese to HELP! I need tips on keeping bg up when she's puking! I love the support and love I've found. I love knowing that I'm not alone. And SWEETS is not alone.
It's crazy (although not too crazy considering I "met" J online...) that I have people that I've found online - people that I have NEVER MET - who I consider to be some of my best and closest friends. People who I know will be there for me whenever I need them. People who "get it".
And SOME of these people I've been lucky enough to meet in real life! And every single person is just flat out awesome! Every. Single. One. And you'd think it would be weird meeting someone you've only talked to online - but it's not. We're family. As corny as it sounds - I've found it to be true. It's like meeting an old friend.
I also must include the amazing endocrinology team at our Children's Hospital! I would have never met these folks (duh) without diabetes. And I'm glad I did. They love us. They love Sweets. They support us. They stand by us. They help us with the most important thing in our lives - keeping our little girl healthy - both physically AND emotionally. Because BOTH are important to them. We are so blessed to have them!
Can't forget about the fantastic folks at JDRF - both locally and nationally. Again - all of them are pretty darn amazing. I've had the honor of being part of our chapter board and through that I've been able to meet others who are serving our local chapter - and you know what? A large number of the folks on our board don't have diabetes and don't have a child with diabetes. They just care. They ride bikes for 100 miles in Death Valley just because they care. They spend Saturdays at Walks and hours and hours of planning and preparation. Because they care. And that includes the folks with a D connection, too. They all care. They are willing to give of themselves and their time because it's important. Not just for themselves personally - but for all of us.
The same goes for the National folks. The people that I work with in Advocacy are awesome! They spend hours fighting for our cause. And not just because it's a job. You can tell when someone does something because it's "just a job". These people do what they do because they care.
We've had the honor of meeting with our Senators and Representatives (and not because we're special or anything - YOU can meet with yours, too! Click HERE to find out how!). That has been a wonderful experience for me as well as for Sweets. She gets to see government up close. I have learned that these men and women who serve us both locally and nationally - they are just ordinary people. They have families, too. They have all been gracious and kind and have listened to our stories. A wonderful experience!
Sweets has met all KINDS of people she would have never met! She has a whole group of friends that she would NEVER know otherwise. And these are friends who "get" her in a way that no one else can. They provide "SAME" for her just like my D Mama's provide "SAME" for me. And that bond is special. It's different from what she has with her best friend that does NOT have D. It's something she would not experience otherwise.
And you know what? It's not just kids. There are a couple of adults who really connect with Sweetpea and she with them. We've had the pleasure of meeting them in real life and that is a precious, precious gift! That connection is important to her - almost more so than having friends her own age. She sees in them her future. And it's a GOOD future. A HOPEFUL future. And she would not experience a relationship like that without diabetes. To them, THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart. You may not know what it means to Sweets or to us the time that you take to send a quick note. But it means a lot. She looks up to you. In a way that she needs - and a way that J and I can't really provide for her. She needs those positive role models. You are special to her. And to us. She needs you! And so do we!
Gosh - the PEOPLE! I could go on forever just about the incredible people D has put into our lives.
But it's more than that...
I have learned to look for the beauty in the small things. I have learned to appreciate the good days and the good moments in a way that I don't think we ever would have without diabetes. Diabetes has changed out outlook on life. We know that the rain is going fall. But we also know that it will stop. Eventually. And that there is beauty in both places.
I've learned that I am NOT in control. I do not like this. But it's true.
I have learned that I am stronger than I ever imagined.
My daughter may have to grow up faster than I would have liked, but she, too, will learn that she is incredibly strong. That fear and pain will not break her. They will only add to her toughness. And she is tough. Small - but mighty.
I have learned that I am braver than I ever thought possible. And so is my little girl. She, too, will learn that she is a brave person.
I have learned what true PASSION is.
I have learned that I can make a difference. Not just in my house or my life or my neighborhood - but in the world.
I have learned what is really important. I don't get caught up in petty squabbles. Don't go for the office gossip. Don't worry about if I'm wearing the latest trend (Let's face it - I'm the Mom of a CWD- I'm lucky if I find ANY clothes to wear much less the latest style!). Diabetes has broadened my view.
I have learned to be more empathetic. When someone is having a hard day or a is rude in a store - I now wonder what might be going on to make them behave that way. You just never know... Maybe they are tired because they were up all night treating lows. Maybe they have prescriptions to fill and no money.
My family is closer. D can make you or it can break you. Unfortunately, I know too many families where D has added to the stress so much so that things fall apart. So I am grateful that not only has this not happened to us - that it has done the opposite. We are a team. We rely on each other. We fight for each other. We stand together.
I spend more time with my daughter than I might have otherwise. D forces me to hang out at play dates and sleepovers and practices. It makes me a normal classroom visitor and a constant field trip companion. At times this can be frustrating. But it also affords me the opportunity to see my child in situations that I might not otherwise. It lets me experience special things with her. And it helps us form an even tighter bond.
D has also forced me to accept help. I don't like asking for help. I still am working on this and will still rarely ASK unless I'm desperate. We even have a babysitter that we "won" at the JDRF Gala Auction - and have not used. But... I HAVE to accept help from others when she is in their care at school. I have been forced to ask for accommodations and special things because of diabetes. And that is not a bad thing. It's an uncomfortable thing for me - it humbles me. But that is not bad.
Diabetes has totally changed my life. It has totally changed my family's life and most importantly, my daughter's life.
I have no idea what our life would be like without diabetes. I have no other children. I just can't fathom living life without diabetes...
Yeah, I would totally give it back if I could.
But I wouldn't trade the GOOD things about diabetes for anything.
Diabetes has made me a better person.
And it's made - and is going to continue to make - my daughter the most amazing, incredible person I've ever met!