I unload the groceries from my car and set everything on the kitchen counter. Then, I start putting everything away where it goes — in the refrigerator, freezer, or cupboard. All is put away except for one item. The case of juice boxes gets carried to Kaitlyn’s room and is put under her bed.
Yes, under her bed. Who does that? I know I used to laugh at my mom for putting toilet paper, canned goods, and other grocery items under the bed for safe keeping in case of an emergency… but the juice is not for safe keeping. It’s to squeeze into my daughter’s mouth so she doesn’t have to get out of bed when she has low blood sugar.
This is our life now and has been for seven years. We just passed her “diaversary,” as most of us type 1 diabetes families call it — the anniversary of the day that she was diagnosed. I stare at the juice under the bed and think about how absurd it would look to anyone who didn’t know that Kaitlyn has diabetes. I think about how our lives would be different had she not been diagnosed seven years ago.
For starters, we wouldn’t know the school nurse or have her number on speed dial. Kaitlyn wouldn’t have been allowed to have a cell phone (at school or at home), and she wouldn’t have a fanny pack with medical supplies hanging off her belt all the time. I would have a whole cupboard and a shelf in the fridge completely free to store something besides diabetes supplies. There wouldn’t be blood to clean off the wall by her bed or on her sheets. I wouldn’t have been invited on every field trip she’s ever been on.
The skin on her tummy, backside, and fingertips would be soft and free of poke marks and sticky residue. Our medical bills would be a lot less. She wouldn’t have to miss a full day of school every three months for her endocrinologist appointment. We wouldn’t have had those hundreds of conversations with the teachers, nurses, coaches, room moms, and babysitters. She wouldn’t know what it feels like to have diabetes, and there definitely wouldn’t be juice under her bed.
Kaitlyn does have diabetes, though, and this is the life we know. It’s also the life we love. It does no good to think about the what-ifs, because it simply is what it is. Diabetes has made us who we are. It’s part of what has made Kaitlyn who she is, and I would not trade this girl or this life for anything.
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.