You really do make Friends For Life

barb and jo 2015

This past weekend I had the honor of being able to take part in the Children with Diabetes Friends for Life Canada Conference.  Being asked to speak to attendees truly is an honor that I never take for granted.

For me, Children with Diabetes (CWD) has been a lifesaver and I don’t mean that lightly.  In 2000, my youngest son was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of just two years.  I was terrified.  I knew no one else with a child with this disease.  Our clinic gave me the phone number of one other parent.  She was just as new at this as me and lived an hour away.  I had no immediate family nearby.  I had amazing friends and kind in-laws but I still felt alone.

When my son was diagnosed we didn’t have internet. That sounds strange today when we have Wi-fi in our cars but in March of 2000 this wasn’t the case.  Our computer was used to type up documents and for my older son to play games.  By the fall of 2000,  my mother had convinced me to try this new thing…dial up internet.  At that moment, my world expanded.

I had been fighting trying to get a 2-year-old to eat after he had had his insulin.  The results were exceptionally stressful for everyone involved.  There were a lot of tears.  A search for “parents of children with diabetes” lead me to an email support list.  I joined and posted my first question…”how do I get my son to eat breakfast after I have given him his humalog?”  The answer was instant.  Two women replied…”Don’t inject him until after he eats then only give him insulin for what he ate not what you wanted him to eat.”

The answer was simple.  It had been suggested to me by my clinic but when it came from these two  women it finally clicked.  Fifteen years later, I am still friends with one of the ladies that replied.  We have met in person and I have been able to thank her for changing my world.

From that moment forward, I became a part of a community.  We cheered each other on and debate certain issues. We shared new technologies and tips that helped to make our lives easier.  Everyone involved had lived the same life at some point.  We shared hopes, dreams, and frustrations. It was (and is) the most amazing group of people whom I ever had the pleasure of interacting with.

Over the years, I have stayed in contact with many of them.  We have reached out to each other in private emails, text messages, phone calls, and in person visits.  When you  attend a Friends for Life event it  truly is a large family reunion.  It is time spent with amazing people who have been in my life for over 15 years and have made a profound difference to it.  They have motivated me and encouraged me.  When we get together, it is as if we have never been a part.

Going to a Friends for Life event is a chance to reconnect with old friends and make new ones.  There are so many names that I recognize at registration that I get to put a hug to when we meet.

It truly is a gift to be a part of such an event.  I treasure every minute and hope that everyone gets the same chance at one point…to find amazing friends and incredible supports to help you through this journey of life with diabetes.

 

Its the most wonderful time of the year!

I am trying to be calm, but I am so terribly excited.  I have gone over my presentation for one last time.  I am thinking about starting my laundry and finding a suitcase.  Inside, I feel like a child getting ready to head to Disneyland tomorrow.  Most people would think I am crazy.

I will be spending most of my weekend inside a hotel.  I won’t be sharing that time with my partner.  We won’t be enjoying a private, romantic getaway.  Why would I be so excited?

Because this weekend is special.  This weekend has taken two years to plan and  arrange.  This weekend I get to spend time with some of my absolute favorite people on the planet.

I will be with  friends who have been there through thick and thin.  They have encouraged me and given me the kick that I have needed through the highs and lows of life over the past 15 years. They are my diabetes family.

I truly consider it an honour to be able to be a part of the Children with Diabetes Friends for Life Canada conferences.  I know how important these conferences are for families so it pained me a few years ago when I found out that there would be no more conferences in the immediate future.  With the work of many incredible people, we were able to change that.

This weekend, CWD will return to Canada after a brief hiatus.  Families have been talking about it since the end of the last conference.  I am so excited for them.

Many people don’t understand why I get excited about this conference.  They figure it’s just the time away or something like that.  They are wrong.  This is a time, an event, at which I can give back.  I can share what I have learned over the years with families and in return I get smiles, hugs and new friendships.

To sit in a hotel filled with people who have experienced what you have been through is a huge gift.  Each time that I am able to share in that experience, I consider myself to be the luckiest person on the planet.  It brings a song to my heart and a smile to my face to know that I get to be a part of something so incredible!  Have to get some laundry done and get packing!!FFL-Canada-2015-450

 

Not so funny after all

The other day I shared a cute video parody on Facebook done by a young lady who has Type 1 diabetes.  She was singing about being low…and then overtreating and being high.  It was all done in fun. It was cute.  I shared it.

parody jealous

The thing was that while I watched it, I didn’t really think it was funny.  I actually wanted to cry.  My heart broke for her. I didn’t want her to have to feel low. I didn’t want her to have to feel frustrated that she over bolused for that last snack.  I didn’t want her to have to feel happy because she could show people that she could have a chocolate bar if she wanted.  I just wanted her to once again experience life without diabetes.

Perhaps it struck me more because they are all things that I don’t have to worry about.  I can nibble on the chocolate cake that is leftover from the weekend’s birthday celebrations without matching it with insulin. I can sneak a piece of chocolate from the cupboard just because I am having a craving. The only one who will give me a look will be my inner self  telling me that those spare 10 pounds will never go away at that rate!

My son manages his own diabetes care now.  He even makes his own changes.  In a recent conversation, I asked him how his readings were.  He said that he had been having an issue in the mornings but he tweaked his rates and all was fine now. He tweaked his rates on his own. No help from me. No help from an educator. He was steering this disease his way.  It was wonderful and sad.

Like this young woman in the video, he does it all.  There is no respite.  There is no end.  I get to sleep at night now because he isn’t under my roof to check.  Diabetes is always with my son, this young girl and the millions of others who have been diagnosed.   No matter how much I have worked to make life better for them, they still carry the burden. For whatever reason, that hit me hard the other day.  It still does.

I am ready for a cure.