Saturday, July 23, 2011

Eagles and earthworms

Life is what you make it. I've thought about this a lot lately because in raising a child with diabetes, we both struggle with balance. It's hard. A big part of me doesn't want to let her out of my sight. But the more rational part of me knows that she needs independence to grow up mentally healthy and prepared to tackle life. And in order to be able to let her go, and leave her for hours at a time, she needs to be in control of her diabetes. And she is.

Diabetes is her opportunity to really show herself, and everyone else, what she's made of. And I'll tell you... she's made of some strong stuff. There's a huge mental component to dealing with diabetes because it doesn't rest and doesn't let you rest, or forget, or take a break. Not ever. Sarah must be prepared to deal with a diabetes related emergency on a moments notice. And... she has to be prepared to deal with that emergency without creating another emergency.

And I think I've figured out one of the reasons Sarah has been so successful.

She wants to be normal.

Seriously, even though that seems kind of backwards, it really isn't. Because in the end which option allows her to really be more "normal"?
  • She can choose to briefly ignore her diabetes by not testing, eating without insulin, and not listening to her body. This might allow her to feel normal, for a little while. But she's learned from hard experience (cough...pretzels....cough) that her blood sugar doesn't really need to climb very high before she begins to feel absolutely horrible. Anything over 250 for any period of time and she's a miserable wreck. 
  • She can choose to take the time to test, bolus correctly, and listen to her body when she feels off. She spends a small amount of time on diabetes, but in return is allowed to do everything she wants to do, without restriction. And not only that, she doesn't like the kind of attention that comes from being sick. She prefers people to recognize her for her sparkling personality. :-)

In the beginning I really was afraid to leave her side. I sat in the theater when she practiced. Every time. Even during three hour classes. But now, about 16 months later, I drop her off at the door, and head out to run errands or take a walk. Sarah has a bag which stays in the room with her. Her bag contains (I dumped it out and checked the contents this morning):

A cell phone
A meter, test strips, etc.
A single serving box of rice crispies cereal
Two single serving pouches of crackers
Pringles pizza sticks
Pirate booty
Assorted other goofy stuff that makes it into pre-teen bags...

So she's ready. If her blood sugar begins to go low, she has a variety of choices in single serving sizes. She can call me if she needs me - but she never has. In fact, in nearly a year and a half, I can't recall a single time she's had a serious low or high during theater, and it's only happened a couple of times in school.

I'm not going to say that there are no diabetes emergencies in her future, because there likely are. But I will say that by being vigilant, making good food choices, and being mentally ready for anything - I really think that she is doing everything she can to ensure she can live as healthy a life as anyone without diabetes - in fact, I'd guess she's healthier than a whole heck of a lot of kids her age.

And I think this attitude is applicable to life in general. I know people who allow all life's little issues to crush them.  And I know other people who stomp on those issues and move on with a smile.

My advice? Find your joy wherever you can. Don't dwell or focus on other people's drama. Life isn't meant to be a bed of roses. Everyone has challenges, strife, and difficult times. Some people rise to a challenge, and some dig a hole in the ground and bury themselves.

Where will you be? Will you soar with the eagles, or hide with the earthworms?

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