Tuesday, February 15, 2011

guest blogger: stephanie

meet my sister. i don't have a super fancy introduction because i can't narrow what she means to me down to a small paragraph. she's smart, strong, independent, stubborn and pretty much bad ass. and one of my best friends. not all sisters would choose to say that about each other. but i mean it. for real. ...maybe. ok, really. and she's kinda funny. -ish.

black friday 2010. that's how we roll.

I know this blog is supposed to be about diabetes, but I was raised right. In that upbringing I was taught, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.” Out of respect for diabetes and my parents I will keep my comments about the disease to myself, as I have little to nothing nice to say.

I do, however, have plenty to say on the topic of my amazing sister and her managing of the disease that plagues and paralyzes her pancreas. I am in awe of my sister on a regular basis. She manages her disease. It does not define her, she does not throw regular “poor me” pity parties regarding her circumstances, but rather she lives life with gusto and attacks all that is thrown at her head-on in SPITE of her situation. (Now she sounds like a bad After School Special ‘her circumstances’ and ‘her situation.’ Haha.) Not only does she do these things responsibly as an adult, but from the moment she was diagnosed she stepped up and learned all she could so that she could effectively advocate for herself and work with her body for optimum health – even as a teenager.

The most vivid memory that I have is of Meredith’s declining health and her diagnosis. I had more than a few chats with a close family member regarding her situation, as I had been taking Anatomy and Physiology at the time and was a regular “Dr. House.” I told them that Meredith was showing all the “classic” signs of diabetes. She had regular, excessive thirst (she downed multi liters of Gatorade daily…and was still thirsty), she seemed to be an open pit for junk food (bagels, cartons of chocolate ice cream, etc), yet never gained a pound and in fact just seemed to keep losing weight, and she seemed to sleep around the clock – above and beyond the normal “growing teenager” exhaustion. She also seemed to disappear into the bathroom almost instantly after eating, I didn’t know what went on in there, but I knew it wasn’t normal. Not only was she not gaining any weight, but she was rapidly becoming unhealthy skin and bones. Flash to her older sister eating all the right things, working out like a fiend and hoping to get those last five pounds off before Spring Break hit – I was, honestly, a little disgusted because, darn it, those carbs and sugarly goodies looked SO good! Anyway, I digress.

The family member was concerned, to say the least, as well, but insisted that my sister kept saying that she, “felt fine,” and just wanted, “to be left alone.” Well, if I felt that crappy most of the time, as I can only imagine she did, I would want to be left the heck alone, too. This was clearly not just the case of a surly, hungry, growing teenager, this was serious. I was SO overjoyed the day she went for her pre-college check up. I knew something wasn’t right, but I felt and knew things had to happen in their own time. I will never forget the phone call I got – I can even still picture my desk at work, the time of day, everything about the scene. Said family member called SOBBING saying they should have listened, that I had been right and that my sister had been diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. Now, I didn’t know much, if anything, about the disease, but I knew one thing….I instantly felt a sense of relief. Yes, sorrow, sympathy, anger, frustration, even a small sense of righteousness at having called it right – though that was minimal, but I certainly felt relief because I KNEW now my sister would be getting the help she needed and deserved and wasn’t willing or able to seek out for herself.

She impressed me, even then, remarking at how everyone kept throwing sympathy and compassion her way when she didn’t see her life changing event as requiring either. She encompassed one of my favorite quotes shared with me by my Mom during a time I needed to hear it, “It isn’t what happens to you, but how you handle it that counts.” Truer words could not be quoted. Meredith, from day one, took control of her life and her health and SHE manages it.

My family member did what most family members and care givers do – gave my sister a huge benefit of the doubt. Totally understandable, and I would do the same for either of my children and all of my loves ones. However, if you are ever in a position similar to mine, please try and take things to the next step if the situation deems them to be necessary. Push your loved one who has been having even obscure symptoms of a heart attack to visit the ER, urge your loved one to get a complete physical exam annually and encourage them to complete all the routine testing that their doctor advises for their age. But, ultimately realize that God gives us all one body and one true, sole responsibility, and that is to and for ourselves. You can lead the loved one to the proper medical attention, but you can’t make them be seen or treated. Your work there is done. Cut yourself the slack you deserve. You did good. :)

I leave you with the words of a famous, if not infamous, diabetic, if you have diabetes, then, “Check your blood sugar. Check it often.”

Now, go manage your situations and circumstances with the grace, dignity and responsibility of a grown up. Need a role model? See the resident blogger.

oh yes i did post this awesome picture of us wearing mom's handmade dresses. HELLO 1990!

1 comment:

  1. Stephanie ROCKS! And Meredith is so lucky to have her!!!!!