Happy 4th of July to our US friends!
This post was originally published in response to a question for Diabetes Blogfest last year….
Dear Dr. vG;
It is day two of Diabetes Blogfest and a letter to you seemed appropriate.
We met over 11 years ago. I was told that you were the best and when I saw you, well, I wondered. My son was terribly ill and a man in a checkered shirt, bushy beard, and big winter boots was to be the one to save him? I left it in God’s hands and we have never looked back.
You were very matter of fact when you met us. You left me scared and shaken to the core when you told me that the next twelve hours would tell us if he lived or died, if he had heart problems or kidney failure. You would teach me about diabetes and whatever else I needed to know after you saved my son’s life.
I remember very little of you after that. I know you were there. I know that our prayers were answered and you saved my son’s life that night. You carefully balanced his insulin and fluids, bringing him back to us healthy and full of life.
You met us again after he left intensive care. I can still see you standing near his room door. You told me that he could honeymoon for years. You warned me of impotency at 20. You gave me the facts never worrying that I could not handle them. You told me that I had to learn things that were foreign to me. I had to be able to handle my son going low before we could go home. You seemed to know my strength more than I did because I was sure I would never be able to handle it all.
Over the years you pushed me. You guided me and then left me to fly or fall on my own. You told your secretary to ignore my faxes for help because you knew that I could answer my own questions. I grumbled upon your return, you laughed and reminded me that I had done fine. When I decided to apply and fight for the Disability Tax Credit you told me I was crazy. You said it could not be done but if I wanted to waste my time, you would not stop me. When we were headed to court to further the fight, you were still standing beside us. When we won, not just for my son but for the thousands of people living with diabetes in Canada, you laughed and complaied that I had given you more work that you didn’t need.
As my son grew, you pushed me again. You knew that diabetes care I could handle but you also knew how difficult it would be for me to let go of my children–especially one that had almost been taken from me. You made my son take care of himself long before many thought he was ready. You asked more of him than many others of his age. I was scared. I balked but went along with it because it had worked with me. Your reasoning was sound but I was terrified.
I am still scared today but I am grateful for the tools you gave us. Last year, we moved away and had to leave your practice. When my son was diagnosed, I had asked if you would ever leave us but I never imagined that life would put us on a path where we would have to leave your care.
You shared stories of your family. You shared your insights and offered us food for thought. You created a strong foundation for us to go forward on and I will forever be grateful. We have stumbled. We have not always agreed but you allowed us room to grow and had faith in us when we may not have had it in ourselves.
Thank you for saving my son. Thank you for showing us how to stand. Thank you for giving us the courage to fly.
With the arrival of 2010 many people began focusing on the Olympics in Vancouver. The hard work of athletes would soon be put to the test. The years of hard work by Olympic organizers and volunteers would be put on display for all of the world to see. I, of course, had to be different!
I was happy to see that the world would get to share in the beauty of my home province but 2010 meant something very different to me. It was the year that marked 10 years since diabetes came barreling into our lives like an elephant in a china shop. It was not invited but like any unwanted guest, it made itself quite at home and left us to pick up the pieces after its destruction. We were forced to find away to live with…to live with what? A new family member? It was that annoying stray that came in when the door was left open and refused to get back out.
For ten years that unwanted guest, that pesky stray had plagued our house. It demanded meals at set times but we learned how to get around that with advanced use of rapid-acting insulin and ultimately an insulin pump. It demanded money for its upkeep but again we fixed that one by advocating for an insulin pump program. Many of our diabetes related costs were now covered by our provincial health plan. Our grouchy stray demanded blood…literally. It won that battle but it was losing ground in other homes. As more insurance companies provide assistance, many more people who also live with diabetes are able to use Continuous Glucose Monitors and change the way they monitor their diabetes.
The constant demands of this stray called Type 1 diabetes that had moved into our lives was a strain. Each year I was reminded of that fateful day when diabetes moved in and try to claim the life of my child but I began to see 2010 as a year of promise. Diabetes made demands but look at how we were able to meet those demands? There had to be positives about this pest. There had to be something good to say and there began my quest. I would find the best things about diabetes and focus on that for the next ten years!
As I came up from my own depression and despair, I began to look around and was reminded of all of the other incredible people who were hitting this same milestone or who had already sailed passed it. I saw small children who were now becoming teenagers. I saw an incredibly amazing group of friends. There are many great lines about friends but diabetes has somehow brought me the most amazing friends that a person could ever ask for. There is Sharon who threw me a life-preserver when I didn’t know how in the world to make a two year old eat the food required to meet his insulin needs. There is Michelle who was there when we came home from the hospital to talk to and went on to become a great friend. There is Darlene and Shirley who helped round out our therapy and advocacy group. There is Stacey who ensured that we never went without supplies, who welcomed us into her home and is such an amazing friend. There is Jeff, Brenda and Laura who have given so many so much but have been there for me through some of the darkest days. There is Kim, Karen, Cheryl, Mike, Michelle, Lauren and so many, many more who have been amazing friends, wonderful confidants, and inspirations to challenge us to do more. I could go on and on and on. There are so many more of you out there who have welcomed us into your homes, who have worked side by side with us on advocacy issues and diabetes project. You have helped me to create change in the world of diabetes. You have been there with a kick when I needed it, a hug when it is required, amazing advice and a shoulder always.
Diabetes came in as an unwelcomed guest. It arrived like that annoying relative that doesn’t know when they have overstayed their welcome. It has also brought the best gift of all…friendship. I would give anything for my son and so many more not to have to go down this road called “life with Type 1 diabetes” but I would never trade the incredible friendships and amazing people that I have met because of this disease.
While the world watches the Olympics in Vancouver, I wait to return home as well but for a different reason. In August, my family will head to Vancouver to meet up with its extended “diabetes family”. Catching up with friends, sharing ideas, and loving the best part of a rotten disease. We have our own athletes and our own heroes. They don’t always have gold medals around their necks but they have captured our hearts and truly become a part of our lives.