A friend asked me today how I was able to cope when I found out emma was diagnosed at only 4 years old. 4 years old is so young...so tiny...still too little to really be able to understand what was going on.
My first reaction was to reply with the old...ahhh...it was ok...we managed...I'm almost glad it happened when she was only 4 instead of having it happen when she was much older, because at 4, I still could be the one in charge of the food she ate...and I could still count on her following what I said when it came to this new life.
I didn't say that though. It seemed too......wrong...too nonchalant....like I was just brushing it off...and that's not my style. So I was honest. I told her that I honestly think that I was in shock for the first year. Sure, it got a tad bit easier as the days went by...and it became more of a routine...but for the most part, I think I was just in shock...numb to the reality of what was going on in front of my eyes. I didn't let myself think about it. I didn't let myself feel it. I didn't let myself scream or cry or get the anger and frustration out....because I was in shock....and I am stubborn...and I didn't want to let go...I held onto those daily tasks and used them to get by. I held onto the carb ratios and needles and finger pokes. I held onto them for dear life and found a sort of.....probably unhealthy....comfort in the tasks. I took it a moment at a time. I immersed myself in the routine and education.
It took Emma about a month to give up the fight and accept this as her new life. She used to scream and thrash about and cry and hate every single second of injection time. It killed me inside a little bit every single time.....and I had to do this to her at least 4 times a day....every...single...day. I think when that first month was over....and I saw her lose that fight and that stubbornness....it hardened me....it changed me....it broke my heart in two. Yes, it made my days easier and the injections easier....but to not see her fight anymore and to see her just accept it....ahhh....it hurt....it hurt more than the day she was diagnosed honestly.
So, I held onto the routine. I despise math...and I found a sense of comfort in the calculations and the numbers. I found comfort in seeking out the patterns. I found comfort in the routine. I think she found comfort in the routine as well. Yes, when I caught sight of the bruises from injections on her little round 4 year old belly....it took my breath away. Yes, when I taught her how to check her own blood sugar.....it felt like a red hot poker right through my heart. On the inside, I was screaming NOOOOOO THIS IS WRONG!! THIS ISN'T NORMAL!!! THIS IS NOT SOMETHING A MOMMY SHOULD HAVE TO TEACH HER 4 YEAR OLD CHILD!!
....but on the outside....I was smiling with pride at how she had adapted and accepted and at how she had a never ending desire to learn. Maybe that was HER way of coping....maybe it was the only way her little 4 year old self could make any sense of it all.
When I look back on those early days, I feel the heartache just as strongly as I did then...but I also feel a sense of pride...and accomplishment...and fierce love. We have changed so much in the past 5 years....and yet deep down inside....way deep down....in that special place inside my heart that I protect with unrivalled intensity.....we are still the same...we are still Mommy and daughter. I won't ever let diabetes take that away.