In our 4+ years of dealing with diabetes, I have had the honour of meeting so many other people also affected by this disease. Some who have been doing this a lot longer than us. Some who are brand new. Every single person that I have encountered has taught me something. I think that is a pretty amazing thing. If I were to spend my days walking around thinking that I knew all there was to know about diabetes....I would be asking for nothing but trouble. If I were to keep my blinders up and avoid those new interactions and new experiences and new conversations, I would be missing out on appreciating my past and how far we have come. It's all a matter of perspective I suppose.
Whenever I get the chance to speak with parents who have been doing this for more years than I can even fathom, I find myself looking at them with a sort of awe...an admiring respect. I find myself asking them questions about how they handled certain situations, how they feel now, how they have been able to maintain their sanity and still focus on giving their kid a healthy normal life all at the same time.
Whenever I meet newly diagnosed families, my heart hurts. I am immediately transported back to those first few weeks of Emma's diagnosis. I can feel the same pain...I can feel the disbelief...the worry...the fear...the complete and total overwhelmingness of it all. It hurts. I hate going back to that place in my head. There are times where I just feel like I have to step away and not let myself go there. I feel like I have to protect myself and shove that pain back down...way down...bury it and hide it from myself, just so I don't have to feel it again. However, I look in their eyes....or I read their words...their cries for help...their despair...and I can't bury it. I can't shove it down. I can't hide it from myself.....because if I did...I wouldn't be helping. It feels like I would be turning my back on them...and myself really. I learn from the newly diagnosed families as well. I learn by helping them and offering my support, that I am in fact strengthening my own family. By listening to them, offering whatever help I can....I am learning how to appreciate how far we have come. I see those days where I fell down...flat on my face...defeated...discouraged. I see those days where it felt like the tears would never stop falling from my eyes. I see those days where I thought my heart was ripped from my chest. I see those days where I was so overwhelmed with the insanity of it all....that I thought there was no point in even trying to win.
I see those days where I finally learned that it's not about "winning"....or "losing"....but it is about the journey....it's about trying. It's about trying your best even when you feel like your best is not enough. It's about trying...even when you feel like you have absolutely nothing left inside of you to try with. It's about knowing that when you are feeling broken down...battered and bruised....that you must pick yourself up, dust yourself off, lean on a friend when you have to, and take another step. It's about having the courage and the belief in yourself to just....keep...moving. It's about learning...and trying...and giving every last ounce of yourself...because when all is said and done...that's really all we can do.
To all of those newly diagnosed families out there, I am going to let you in on a little secret. Are you ready? Listen carefully....and believe this with all of your heart...because it's true.
You will make mistakes. You will. We all do. There is not a Mom or Dad out there that is a perfect pancreas for their child. You will make mistakes...so do not beat yourself up for doing so. Instead, be PROUD of yourself for making them. (i know...i know...WHAT? seriously?).....YES....be proud of yourself for every single mistake you make...little or big....because they have all taught you something....they have all made you a better D-Mom or D-Dad. Don't let the fear win. Your fear does NOT deserve the time or the energy. Trust yourself. Believe in yourself. Know that you are the best person in the world for this job of being your child's pancreas. There is no one on the planet that could do it better. YOU are the one....and YOU can do it. Believe that.
Believe it and just keep trying.