Once again I am behind. I could use a thousand excuses including the fact that once again I was not feeling overly blessed after looking at the large gaps in testing shown by my son’s meter but I won’t. Friends have truly been the biggest diabetes blessing in my life as I already mentioned but there have been others. Another big one has been a deeper sense of compassion and empathy. I have always considered my self a pretty compassionate person but when a chronic disease moves into your life, you develop a new perspective on things. I saw our universal health care system in a less flattering light. I began to understand the financial toll that diseases can create on families. Its not bad enough to have a family member who requires life saving therapies or drug but having to reallocate resources to manage that can be exceptionally stressful. I began to understand how Alzheimer and cancer patients’ families felt. I understood their battles with government and developed a first hand knowledge of something called a “formulary” which is government talk for the drugs that they feel warrant coverage under their provincial health care systems and the ones that they deem extravagant. My heart grew that much bigger as I began to get a glimpse of the fears of parents who deal with severe allergies and asthma. You never know when a life threatening problem will happen. Nights are not safe. Schools are not safe. Your children being alone is a constant worry. Diabetes is a nightmare. Its costs are insane without extensive private medical insurance. The blessing in all this is that I have developed an empathy for people who live with a variety of other disease. Diabetes is hard but it is not the only disease that is hard. We all have our “thing” to deal with and a blessing of diabetes is that it has shown me this in a broader light.
With the American Thanksgiving holiday coming up, I have seen many friends noting the things that they are grateful for throughout the month of November. Gratitude is a great practice and something that I promote in my Life Coaching practice. It is also something that I try to incorporate into my own life.
Mike asked that we blog about a few of the blessings that diabetes has brought into our lives. Ideally you would look at one blessing per day for the week of November 19-25th. Since I am a day late in getting started, I will try to come up with two for my first day…
Actually the top two are simple and intertwined. My diabetes family and CWD conferences.
Its has been almost twelve years since I “found” my family. I had just gotten onto the Internet for the first time. I searched “parents of children with diabetes”. I was instantly sent to a website and a parents email list. There I posted a question about a battle I had been having with my toddler–trying to convince him to eat after giving his insulin. We had been experiencing tears, vomiting, and terrifying lows. I was at my wits end.
Within seconds I received two emails back from parents telling me what I already knew but for some reason could not do. They told me not to give him insulin until after he ate. It was so simple but until another parent told me, I could not grasp NOT giving my son insulin.
That was just the beginning. Over the years, these face-less friends became my support. They were there through the good times and the bad. They understood the bittersweet feeling of having your four year old being able to lance his own finger and draw blood. They understood the exhausting nights and the drag your butt days. They were there to pull me out when I just wanted to curl up and hide under a rock for awhile. They were there through diabetes fights, political battles and personal struggles. No matter what was going on, there was always a strong shoulder to cry on and firm hand to push me forward.
Beach party with our amazing Friends for Life!
As the years went by, I was able to share the wisdom taught to me with others. I was also able to meet some of my nearest and dearest friends in person. I travelled to visit some at a beach party. I later travelled to visit others at what has become the foremost diabetes conference in North America–CWD’s Friends For Life. It is the one place on earth where friends connect and friendships truly are made for life.
Just a few of the amazing people that I am blessed to call “friends”
Imagine how blessed I felt when I was asked to not just attend a FFL conference but be a part of the staff? I was honored I was humbled. Each year that I attend, I have to pinch myself. I am surrounded by the most amazing people in the diabetes world. Parents, doctors, nurses, educators and advocates…and me. It truly is the high point of my year when I am there!
Diabetes, despite its brutal nature, has brought many blessings with it. The two that make each day a little easier are definitely the incredible friendships I have made and the gathering of those friends at FFL Conferences each year.