Monday, July 11, 2011

A Rant and a Letter to the Lady at the Gate

Seems I only come here to rant about diabetes now. Not like that's not what I was doing almost 6 years ago when I started this blog. Back then my posts where more melancholy. I also had a few hopeful and uplifting posts. But, now, I think I just come here to complain.

My blog is my therapy. And, at this point in my diabetes journey, I need a place to vent and whine.

I feel bad about it because there is so much more I could be posting. Like: Holden's wedding pictures. Yes, that's right; Holden has been married for 2 months now. He's still in college and about to start his junior year.

Or, I could talk about the new house we bought in January. Or, the awesome grades that Riley got this year.

But, no, I'm here to vent. Complain. Scream into the wind.

Riley is very active in sports. He plays baseball, spring and fall soccer, and basketball. Right now he is playing baseball. He made the all star team and the tournament is this week. The park where he is playing has a very strict policy regarding outside food and drink. And, I understand that. It is a local park that is trying to make money so that the kids have somewhere to play. I don't mind supporting that at all (even though a bottle of water is $2).

But, they only sell sodas, water, and regular PowerAde. To say that it has been hot in NC, is and understatement. It's been in the 90s here and when you add in the humidity it feels like its 100+. So, I had been taking PowerAde Zeros for Riley. He had been putting them in his bat bag and walking through the gate and no one was the wiser. But, yesterday, in his excitement to join his team he took off with his bat bag before I could put his drink in it.

I was going to get him to come back and put the drink in the bag. But, my mom said she would just take it in. She said she would explain why he had to have it. She was sure there wouldn't be a problem. Me, I wasn't so sure. That's why I had been sneaking drinks in all week. I've had to fight that battle too often. I'm a conflict-avoider by nature. I was just trying to let my child have his drink without having to fight for it.

When my mom got to the gate the woman told her she was not allowed to bring in the drink. My mom calmly explained to her that Riley has diabetes and they did not sell any sugar-free sports drinks. The woman then said that she had diabetes too and drank regular PowerAde. Uh, lady, wrong thing to say. I very calmly told her that she is free to do what she wants but that my son would not be drinking a regular PowerAde.
Her saying this flipped a switch in Michael and he started to flip out a little bit. He started off by asking is she was Type 1 or Type 2. When she practically screamed back that she was Type 2 he went into a mini lesson on the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. Instead of listening and trying to understand what he was saying, she said, “Well, he can just drink water.” OK, lady, mistake number two.

Her first mistake was pulling out her diabetes card. If you’re going to pull it out at least use it to let us know you get where we’re coming form. Don’t use it to judge us and put the way that you deal with your diabetes onto our son. Everyone’s diabetes is different, especially when dealing with two different types. I know a lot of people with Type 1 diabetes and they all have to do things differently. I know some kids who do drink regular sports drinks when they play games because they need the carbs to keep their sugars from going low while they are playing. That is not the case for Riley.

Her second mistake was making a call on what our child should be drinking. Yes, he could just drink water. On occasion he’s had to do just that because I have forgotten to bring him a drink. But, should he have to drink water instead of an electrolyte-replacing drink because of someone else’s ignorance? My answer to that would be a big fat NO.

Michael snatched the drink from me and proceeded to walk in with it anyway. I took it from him and told him not to make a big deal about it that I would just take it back to the car. Of course, my intention was to get Riley to go to the car, put the drink in his bag and walk back through the gate. That drink was going in one way or another. Besides, the woman was one of those people who can only see things from her perspective. There was no talking to her. She was too busy arguing and trying to be right to actually listen to what we were saying. So, trying to avoid drama I took the drink back to the car.

While I was taking the drink back to the car Michael said he turned his back to the woman and told her she just needed to stop talking to him. He said she kept talking and called him pathetic twice and then went on the say it was amazing what people would do to get out of paying $4 for a drink. It’s a good thing I didn’t hear her say that, because that’s when I would have lost it. Ignorance is one thing, but attacking someone else is a whole other ballgame.

That is when Michael turned to the woman sitting next to her and asked to speak to who was in charge. She immediately took him to a man. To the other woman’s credit, she was also trying to get the lady at the gate to understand that Riley needed that drink. When Michael found the guy in charge, my mom was already talking to him and explaining the situation.

By the time I got back into the park, the matter had been resolved and Michael was allowed to go back to the car and get the drink.

Michael did cause somewhat of a scene at the front gate. I noticed some other parents standing there with there mouths gaping open. You see, we’re normally pretty quiet. We don’t like to make waves and pretty much keep our mouths shut. But, after almost 6 years of dealing with people’s ignorance of Riley’s disease, Michael snapped. I’ve snapped on people before. But, yesterday I just didn’t have the energy. I was tired of fighting but, thankfully, Michael took up the slack for me.

While I was sitting waiting for the game to start I was thinking of some of things I wanted to tell the woman. Not ugly things, but things to try and make her understand where we were coming from.

So, I decided to write a letter. She will never see this letter, but my hope is that one day someone will read it and understand a little better what it’s like to live with Type 1 diabetes.

Dear lady at the front gate,

I wanted to explain to you why it was so important to us that we get to bring in a sugar-free sports drink for our child. I’m guessing that since you were working at the tournament that you have a least one child. Maybe as a mother you can understand. You see, my son was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when he was only 3 years old. He has no memory of life before having to be jabbed with needles on a daily basis. He has no idea what it’s like to just eat whatever he wants. He doesn’t even know what it’s like to play a game without sticking himself with a needle at least once, but often, several times. I don’t tell you this to gain your sympathy. Neither he, nor I, wants your sympathy. We want you to understand what it’s like. Really understand the battle he fights every single day just to stay healthy. Not to sound dramatic, but it is a battle. Everyday we fight a battle for his health. Just today I had to fight a battle with him over French fries. He loves French fries, but we fight battles with him over French fries because it runs his sugars sky-high. We fight this battle to try to avoid complications like kidney failure and blindness. He hears on an almost daily basis why he can’t have certain things that other kids take for granted. This battle is emotionally draining on all of us and some days are worse than others. I guess we are a little battle-weary. So forgive us if we don’t want to have to fight with someone just so he can have a sugar-free sport drink.

And, you were correct when you said that he could just drink water. But, why should he have to? In the heat and humidity an electrolyte replacing drink is better for him. And, frankly, that’s not your call to make. He deserves to have a sports drink like everyone else. If your park sold sugar-free sports drinks we would gladly buy one. But, they don’t. Again, not looking for sympathy, but my son will always be a little different from the other kids. No other kid on his team sticks their finger through the dugout fence to have their sugar checked. No other kid chews glucose tablets while running out to play a base while their mother silently prays that he doesn’t pass out from a low sugar. No other child on his team is hooked to a life-sustaining machine 24/7. You don’t know how happy he was when we found PowerAde Zero. He was finally able to have a sports drink instead of water. To you, it may seem insignificant. But to a little boy who is used to always being different it is like heaven.

My hope is that you will have a little more compassion for others in the future. Everyone has their own battle that they are fighting. And, a lot of us are just plain tired of fighting and would like a little understanding for a change.

Riley’s mom