Wednesday, July 16, 2008

How Much Life Has Changed Since Diagnosis

Every couple of months or so we get a newsletter in the mail from the medical center where we got pump training. It has upcoming events in it as well as some personal stories.

One story in particular stood out for me. It was written by the mom of a girl that started college last year. She was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when she was 15 years old.

She spoke of how much life had changed since the diagnosis. But, not really in the way you would think. She didn't talk about how the insulin injections, the carb counting, or the lows and highs had made an impact.

She spoke of the change in attitude since diagnosis. And, I found myself nodding my head as I read what she had to say.

Several months ago I wouldn't have understood. Several months ago I would only nod my head in agreement when I read of the pain and the tears. I could only relate to the heartache brought on by this diagnosis.

I remember the first couple of years after Riley was diagnosed I would read posts or comments by other parents talking about how they were happy and content. They spoke of how diabetes was just a small part of their life and I couldn't comprehend how that could be.

Don't get me wrong, I wasn't walking around depressed or anything. But, was I totally happy? No. It was like piece of my heart ached continuously for my child because of a disease that had invaded his body.

But, one day, around the two year mark of his diagnosis, it's like a fog lifted. It was like the song lyrics "I can see clearly now. The rain is gone."

I became truly happy. I decided that life was going to go on no matter what and I had a choice if I wanted to be miserable or content.

I chose content.

That doesn't mean that I've given up on a cure. It doesn't mean that I'm happy that my child has diabetes. It means I've come to realize that life is what it is and you can make the best of it or not.

Now, I can nod my head when parents talk about the pain and tears because I remember all too well the many, many nights spent crying, praying, pleading because of diabetes. But, I can nod my head too when they speak of how happy they are.

What has helped me is that I've learned a lot over the last 2 1/2 years. There is still a lot I don't know and a lot I will never understand about this disease.

But, I've learned that ice cream and pizza require a combo bolus. I've learned that a temp basal can be your best friend. I've learned that someone else besides myself can take care of Riley and he'll be OK.

Most importantly I've learned that diabetes doesn't have to rule your life for you to effectively deal with it. There was a time when I wouldn't read a book or look at anything else on the Internet unless it had something to do with diabetes. It wasn't that long ago that I felt guilty if I didn't analyze every sugar.

And, when I first gained my old happiness back, I had a brief time where I felt like I was a bad mother because I didn't focus on diabetes like I once did. I was afraid that since I didn't become upset by every high and every low that I wouldn't take care of Riley as well as I once had.

I really don't know how to describe it. It was a mixture of fear and guilt. Fear, because I thought I'd stop caring about diabetes. I felt like if I could put diabetes in the background that maybe I wouldn't give it the attention that it needed. Guilt, because I wanted to be "normal" again. I wanted a life that didn't revolve around finger pricks and basals.

But, over time, the fear and guilt subsided. I've learned to see every single day with my children as a blessing from God. Insulin is a blessing. Being able to afford a pump is a blessing.

But, mostly, having a happy, healthy little boy is my blessing.

I know that my attitude about diabetes can shape how Riley looks at things. I have learned to only be positive when it comes to diabetes. But, I must say, Riley does a better job of it than me.

A few weeks ago Riley asked me if I had one wish what I would wish for. I asked him what he would wish for.

"The bestest video game in the world."

"Hmmm" , I said. "I'd wish that you were cured of diabetes."

He just looked at me.

"Wouldn't you like that too?"

"No. Having diabetes isn't that bad. I kind of like it. I'd rather have a video game."

And, with that, he walked out of the room leaving me with a huge grin on my face.

My son is awesome. Diabetes is only a very small part of his life.

And that makes me very, very happy.


k2 said...

You've learned so much!
Contentment equals happiness,and both are a beautiful thing.

Carey said...

He is awesome indeed! Great post.

Anonymous said...

Amen! What a relief when we are able to see the light again, as always you took the words right out of my mouth Penny.-Kelly-

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