Monday, October 08, 2012

The Blessings of Diabetes

Saturday (Oct 6) was Riley’s 7 year anniversary of his diagnosis.  In years past, I would anticipate the day.  I would worry about how I would handle it and the emotions it brought up.  This year I didn’t do that.  I am learning to live one day at a time.  Each day has enough worry of its own.  There is no need to borrow worry from other days.  So, I really gave no other thought to it other than it was the day of his diagnosis and that we would need to plan how to acknowledge it like we do every year.  This year Riley had two baseball games that day, making it hard to go out and “celebrate” like we usually do. 

The day started off fine.  But as the day progressed my emotions began to get the best of me.  All of a sudden a flash of a memory from that day 7 years ago would pop into my head.  A flash of crumpling into my husband’s arms and sobbing while my oldest son cried quietly in the corner.  A flash of the look on the doctor’s face as he gave us the news.   A flash of that tiny little hand with that big old IV sticking out of it.  A remembrance of crawling into the hospital bed that night and waking up next to him in the morning with fresh tears on my face because it hadn’t been a dream as I had hoped.  Try as I might to push those thoughts out of my mind they would pop up without notice.  It was strange, really.  I hadn’t expected to have so much emotion.

I was sitting in the bleachers waiting for Riley’s ballgame to start and it hit me.  I was reading something on my phone and, out of nowhere, the tears began to sting my eyes.  I sat and blinked them back.  Then, I headed to my car so I could compose myself.  I sat in my car and prayed a prayer of thankfulness.  Thankful that Riley is happy and he is healthy.  7 years ago I never would have dreamed of how full his life would be.  He is a great kid with a great attitude.  He plays 3 different sports (and plays them very well, thank you).  He’s not been readmitted to the hospital since diagnosis.  He’s never gone into DKA.  He’s never had a low severe enough to warrant glucagon or to cause a seizure.  Health-wise he has been blessed beyond measure.

But, it’s not just about the health.  I’ve wrote about this before.  The health stuff, the needles, the carb counting, all of the stuff that most people think is the big stuff is really the little stuff.  The big stuff is the emotions, the feeling of being different from all of his peers.  The frustration of not being able to participate in sleep overs (yet).  The frustration of being tethered to a pump 24/7/365.  The emotions of being hungry and not being able to eat because his sugar is too high. 

Riley is blessed beyond measure in that aspect too.  Yes, he has times when he yells about diabetes.  He has days when he gets frustrated by consistent highs or lows.  He has his moments.  But, through it all, he’s got his head on straight.  He has the right perspective about all of it.

About 3 months ago Riley and I were just finishing up devotion before bed.  He was sitting in the bed next to me, little head propped up on pillows.  I looked at him and said, “You know I would take diabetes away from you if I could.  If I could take it away from you and give it to myself I would.

“I know, Mom.”  There was about a 30 second pause as he stared at his hands.  “But, I wouldn’t give it to you.”

“Why wouldn’t you give it to me?”  I thought he was going to say because he’s used to it and he wouldn’t want me to have to learn to live with it.  I wasn’t prepared for the wisdom that he was getting ready to impart. 

“Because it is mine.  Maybe God gave me diabetes for a reason.  Maybe it’s a blessing.  You don’t know.  I want to keep it. “

What has taken me more than 30 years to learn my little man has learned in 10.  What many would see as a curse, he sees as a blessing. 

So, as I sat in my car at the ballgame praying prayers of thankfulness for Riley’s health I also prayed prayers of thankfulness for the lessons he’s learned and the strong, beautiful, brave, and wise little boy he has become. 

Diabetes does not define him but it has helped shape who he is.  And, I’m proud of who he is.  Would he be that same strong, beautiful, brave, and wise little boy if diabetes had never touched his life?  I don’t know.  And, I’ll never know.  My guess is that even though he would be awesome without diabetes, he’s even more awesome with it.