I am trying to get motivated in raising money for the Diabetes Walk for a Cure this year. It's hard, I have to admit. This will be our 4th Walk. This June 26th will mark 4 years of diabetes...half of Emma's life. I can feel the sting of bitter sad tears in my eyes even thinking about that fact. Soon, Emma will have lived more days of her life WITH diabetes than without. That is perhaps one of the most difficult thoughts for me to wrap my head around since the day she was diagnosed. Yes, we have come a long way...yes, she is resiliant...she is strong...we make it work...but it's almost impossible for me to think of that fact...half her life. In any case, I am sitting here thinking of what I believe to be the most important things about diabetes education and awareness. I believe that educating the public about it will lead to understanding...understanding will lead to compassion and respect...compassion and respect will lead to that drive that is needed to find a cure...that desire to recognize that this disease is brutal...this disease is far from easy...this disease needs to be cured. So, I decided to share some facts about type 1 diabetes...some important facts that I think are important and should be common knowledge amongst everyone.
Type 1 diabetes can not be caused from eating too much sugar. There is absolutely nothing that you can do to prevent type 1 diabetes. Emma did not ask for this disease...she did not ask for it and did not do anything wrong to get it. I did not ask for it or do anything wrong to cause her to get it.
Type 1 diabetes sneaks in like a cat burglar in the middle of the night (or day) and steals away the ability to have a properly functioning pancreas. One day you are fine...eating whatever, playing, healthy, normal....and the next you could be lying in an emergency room bed...fighting for your life because of high blood sugars causing diabetic ketoacidosis. It....just...happens. Simple as that. There is no rhyme or reason as to who diabetes affects...it's not picky...short, tall, chunky, stick thin, average size, brown hair, blonde hair, black, white, asian, whatever. Diabetes doesn't care about your income, your background, whether or not you have one parent in the picture, both parents, or no parents. It doesn't care about your fear of needles, your confidence level, your intelligence, or your popularity. It just doesn't care. If diabetes chooses to invade your life....it will....and there is absolutely nothing in the world that you can do to stop it.
Living with type 1 diabetes doesn't mean that you can't eat sugar. It doesn't mean that you can't have candy, cookies, cake, ice cream, juice, anything. Yes it is important to have all things in moderation....but that should go for everyone in this world...not simply diabetics. Living with diabetes doesn't mean that you can't run, play, bike, skate, climb mountains, swim, or even be a gold medal athlete in the Olympics. You can do and be anything you want to. It doesn't mean that you can't be a doctor, lawyer, teacher, McDonald's employee, hair stylist, or even President of the United States. Like I said, you can do and be anything you want to.
Diabetes is not contagious. Your kid will not catch it from my kid just from playing with her. The only thing she will catch from playing with my kid would be a sense of compassion and empathy...a little bit of understanding and some knowledge about this life and how the world is full of diverse people...and that is a good thing. Just because my kid is diabetic doesn't mean that she can't enjoy or manage to come to your kid's birthday party. It doesn't mean that she can't have sleepovers or even sleep at your house. She can do the exact same things your kid can do...we just need a minute to be able to plan ahead.
There are countless things that affect blood sugar numbers. When you see me poking a needle into my kid's finger tip to check her blood sugar, know that I am doing it for any of the following reasons: the activity level happening, whether or not she has a stuffy nose or some other illness, whether or not it's cold, rainy, or hot out, whether or not she has eaten anything, whether or not she is stressed, excited, nervous, worried, mad, sad, angry, hyper, overwhelmed, lonely, or even feeling in a normal average mood, whether or not she has eaten a food that is a simple carb like a cookie that will burn through her system quickly...or a piece of pizza or plate of spaghetti that is a complex carb that she will burn through more slowly.
Most of all, keep in mind that diabetes is not an easy life...but it is our life. We don't want your sympathy...but we would love your empathy. We don't want you to write us off as not being worth the time or the extra pre-planning hassle...we want you to give us a chance. We don't want you to put diabetes on the back burner and think that it isn't as important as other diseases...because it is...my kid...our kids...are just as important as yours and just as important as every other kid on this planet....they didn't ask for this diabetic life...they deserve the chance to have a chance.
So, before you let the ease and comfort and simplicity of ignorance take over your thoughts....dig down deep and push those aside....choose the seemingly harder approach and take a minute to educate yourself and those around you about type 1 diabetes. Educate your family and friends...because if you don't who will? Who knows, maybe you will ignite that spark of curiosity and that thirst for knowledge and that drive that comes from deep within. Maybe you will inspire someone to find the cure. Maybe your education and your words will make it happen...and how amazing would that feel?