My first experience with the stupid D word was when I was 9, and my sister diagnosed with type 1. I won’t go into her diagnosis story, but it DID involve a routine trip to the pediatrician, that turned into missing a family day trip to Mammoth Cave. Bummer. Family- we never made that trip up, ya know. Maybe it’s time? This turned into a weeklong stay at the children’s hospital, where I’d roam the halls for countless hours (I thought I was hot stuff with that much freedom, and I’ll never forget where room 521 is located!), watch my sister practice shooting up oranges from her hospital bed, and in general, think of how cool it must be to have everyone fawn over you for a week. I mean, we are talking a LOT of flowers and balloons, people! I knew that diabetes was serious, but it was never presented to me as a life changing issue, but more as a fact of life. She had this now, and this was how to keep her healthy. It meant that meatimes were at set times now, and carbs and sugar grams were counted always. I knew which were "free" foods, and I knew when it was better to take my candy or other sweet treat into my room or outside to eat it, because she couldn't have it right at the moment. I knew where glucose tablets were (and how they tasted- YUM!), and what insulin was, and what to do if she went low and Mom and Dad weren’t home. I never got to squeeze the icing into her cheek, but boy I would have been able to squeeze like a pro if needed! I also learned very quickly what to do if her blood sugar was high - STAY THE HECK AWAY!!!! (Love you, sis!)
Flash forward and now it’s the summer of 2000. I’m at home and the doorbell rings, and Meredith is standing on my front porch. “So … I have diabetes,” she says calmly. I don’t really remember what happened next. (Did you come inside? Did our moms chat? Why don’t I remember this?) meredith's note: i have no idea. i remember standing on the porch for a while, and then going inside, your mom was showing my mom the binder of nutritional labels, i think we were in your room doing teenager-y things. but I do remember thinking that it all made sense. Of COURSE she was diabetic- DUH!! Why didn’t I realize that before? I also remember thinking “WHY ARE YOU JUST WALKING AROUND?? WHY AREN’T YOU IN ROOM 521??” ok maybe I didn’t really think that last part. I was shocked that she was just, like, walking around free though. Oh, how times had changed already!
in st. louis, about a year before i was diagnosed
So fast forward again. Now it’s my fifth year of teaching, and I have a third grader with diabetes in my classroom. At the beginning of the year, I was talking to his mom and I mentioned my sister, and how I had grown up learning about type 1. She basically stopped giving me the “diabetes speech” and told me how relieved she was that he’d be in my room. I kindly reminded her that I still needed the speech. I certainly didn’t know everything about
I tell you all of this to tell you that Meredith has been a great sounding board this year with any questions or problems I have with this sweet boy’s not so sweet D. It’s such a crappy disease but I am grateful to have so many people in my life who handle it beautifully and make it look effortless! Kudos to you all.
december 2010, my annual tacky sweater party (i already took mine off)!