How has diabetes changed ME?

The other day I wondered, how has diabetes changed me? That’s pretty well where the thought ended. Actually it ended with me writing it down and thinking “dang, that would be a pretty good topic one day!” Today is the day I tackle it.
Diabetes changed my career dramatically. I have a degree in psychology with a minor in sociology and have a background in finance.  Well, after March of 2000, I began to use my psych degree to figure out how to make a two year old eat food to keep him alive when he didn’t want to. I later used my background in finance to help figure out how to pay for pump supplies.

I had planned to rejoin the workforce after my youngest son entered school.  The boys had family that lived close by so childcare would not be a problem…until diabetes arrived.  Diabetes completely sidetracked that plan.  I often still wonder what I will be when I grow up.  My mother on the other hand swears that diabetes brought me my calling.

Diabetes made me care more about issues such as health care and education. I was never one to sit on the sidelines. I always felt that if you didn’t speak up, how could you expect people to know that change was needed? I have definitely spoken when it comes to issues surrounding diabetes.

Diabetes has left me unable to sleep for more than four hours at any given time without waking up. It has given me a few more grey hairs than I probably would have had at this point in my life.  It has also added to the fine lines I am beginning to see appear around my eyes. 

Most importantly, Diabetes gave me a greater appreciation of how precious life is.  The day my son almost died is forever emblazoned in my mind–the pure terror I felt.  The helplessness of possibly losing a child was something that I never want to feel again.  Over the years we have lost friends to this disease.  I have learned to value each hour and cherish so many amazing friendships.

Diabetes has definitely changed me, and maybe in some small way, some of those changes are for the better.

Advocacy burn out…and recharge!

There are days when you wonder, “why do I do this? Am I past my best before date? Should I shut everything down and disappear into the wood work?  Have I had my last hurrah?”

I started years ago when I felt that Canada needed a bit more for children and parents of children with diabetes.  It became a great platform to rally people and create the change that we saw in the Disability Tax Credit.  Over the years I add the “blog” as some people were actually interested in how we handled diabetes and felt less alone reading about the insanity in my world.

As I kept this stuff going, there were some seriously low times in my life.  There were okay times in my life and there were some great times in my life.  Doing this “stuff” was an outlet.  It made me feel like maybe I was doing something and helping someone.  I receive phone calls and emails that let me know that I was helping someone and I did make a difference.  They kept me going but there always is that little voice that says “Go and get a real job.  You don’t matter any more.  Get on with life and let the next generation of diabetes advocates have at it.”

Yesterday was a five star day that should hopefully quell that voice for more than a few days.  I received an interesting email from a lady and it took me a little off guard.  Her grand-daughter was having a baby shower and instead of a gift had asked that she support by purchasing something from the online store.  I had once had a woman want to incorporate diabetes awareness into her wedding but this was even more personal. It was addressed to me.  The young lady appreciated what the website has to offer and wanted to do what she could to support its continued existence.  It truly touched me.

This was actually the icing on my cake for the day.  You see before this woman’s email I had received another one stating that someone would be in contact with me.  That someone was in charge of changing the Standards for Children in Schools in our province.  For the first time, after too many years of asking, our province wanted to change how they deal with children with diabetes in schools.  They realized that the system they had in place was just not enough.
I live in a province with a large number of children with diabetes.  Each year I receive phone calls from parents in tears after trying to get help and understanding from their schools.  There are some great schools out there but there are some terrible ones.  A policy for the province would help to even the playing field for all students with diabetes. 
I had done it! The emails and conversations to friends and politicians asking them all to help had paid off. They want to talk to me about doing what they can for children with diabetes.  I don’t expect miracles but going from nothing to something is huge! I was so overwhelmed–so happy.  Finally we were starting to see change!
As you can tell, my energy has been recharged.  The little voice given a good smack that should keep it in check for at least a few months or more.  We all have our ups and downs, our highs and lows, but as the saying goes “To the world you may be just one person, but to one person you are the world.”  Making a little difference is a very big thing.