I wanted to take a moment to relate some of the positive aspects of James’ type 1 diabetes diagnosis. I know not everyone feels this way, but overall, we’ve been able to see many blessings. Everyone has a different experience, and yours probably differs from mine, but only by being totally honest do I feel like I can express my tender feelings towards our diabetes journey. Here goes.
First, I’m grateful that if James has to have a medical condition, it’s diabetes, which is treatable. This is highly subjective, I know. But personally, it gives me comfort to know that James has a condition that should permit him to live a full and relatively normal life. With modification, there should be very little he won’t be able to do. I’m thankful for all of that.
Second, at least in my circle, diabetes is understood to be a medical condition. I’ve received a lot of support and understanding from nearly everyone around me. Some other, more minor struggles in my life have seemed more difficult because I didn’t have as much community backing as I do with diabetes.
Third, diabetes has taught me about how to interact with others who are dealing with tragedies or hardships of their own. I try hard to watch my words and offer only understanding and a listening ear. I don’t make judgments based on articles I’ve read online. I trust parents and caregivers. I hope that’s made me a better friend.
Fourth, it has taught me how brave kids are capable of becoming. While I hate that life has had to test James in this way, I love seeing the inner strength and resilience that I didn’t know was there. I didn’t know it was possible for such a young kid to live a life so relatively unscarred despite daily treatments that might seem painful or uncomfortable.
Fifth, diabetes has helped me to build a stronger relationship with my husband. Between us, Craig and I take equal responsibility. We work as a great team, and it has only built strength and tenderness between us.
Sixth, it has taught me about the beauty of true friendship. I’m thinking of people like Kim who reached out to us in the early years of our diagnosis and who went above and beyond what I thought was possible to give. Human friendship is beautiful, and I might not have known how much so, had we not tested those bonds through James’ diagnosis.
Seventh, on a related note, I’ve had the privilege of meeting incredible people through diabetes. From school personnel who are so much more than just their job description to new friends sharing the burden of a diagnosis, my life is full of people who care about me and care about James. I met them only because I’m “here” in the diabetes world now.
Eighth, diabetes has caused my family to focus more intently on health, nutrition and exercise. This started when I became a carb counter and realized that I needed to be extra careful to instill good habits in James that will last his whole life through.
Ninth, it has been sweet to see James’ siblings deal with diabetes. They are understanding and supportive and seem to get that James is a rock star when it comes to the tasks that he endures daily. They would go the distance for him. I am also more attentive to their needs that may not be as pressing but are as real for them as diabetes is real for James. I feel like I’m better at filling the needs of all my kids.
Finally, diabetes has provided deeply tender memories in my relationship with James. I will never forget sharing a pediatric bed in the hospital at diagnosis. I will never regret the comfort it gives me to offer real and substantial assistance to him. I am always grateful when I can lighten his burden. I’m thankful for every minute I spend with him caring for his physical needs. I wish I could address all the hardships James will face with such a direct hand!
All in all, diabetes has been challenging for our family. But it is not at all without positive aspects. As we’ve progressed along our journey, we’ve found much to be grateful for. What blessings have you seen in your life?
Disclaimer: The experiences and suggestions recounted in these articles are not intended as medical advice, and they are not necessarily the “typical” experiences of families with a child who has type 1 diabetes. These situations are unique to the families depicted. Families should check with their healthcare professionals regarding the treatment of type 1 diabetes and the frequency of blood glucose monitoring. Jen and Kim are real moms of kids with type 1 diabetes and have been compensated for their contributions to this site.