I'm really not very good at being angry, but today I feel compelled to write about anger because my friends are hurting.
I know how it feels to feel so scared for a child. That moment when it hits you that your baby, who you cradled, changed diapers, snuggled with, and love with all your heart and soul - has a disease that it incurable and only moderately controllable. A disease that can result in serious complications, illness, and death. That you have the responsibility to not only raise your child to be a good person, a good student, a happy individual, but to also to be a full time Endocrinologist.
Your baby is your superhero, and so their disease becomes the villain in your story. And in our world, our disease is the most important - well, because it's the one attacking our baby!
Sometimes we forget that type 1 diabetes is not the only disease. I read a blog post a week or so ago from a mom who lost her poor little guy to cancer at age 4. Heartbreaking! She couldn't understand why the whole world wasn't rising up to raise funds and find a cure for this disease which primarily kills toddlers and young children. Well, I admit, I haven't given a dime towards this specific cancer. In fact, until I read her blog, I didn't know it existed. And I feel tremendously for this mother. But the truth is, I don't have the funds, time, or energy to support every worthy cause. Does that make it less worthy? No, absolutely not.
But isn't that kind of what we D-Parents expect? That all those people out there, most of whom don't know a soul with type 1 diabetes, will just lay down their worldly goods and follow our superhero straight into the volcano? We expect it because our children don't deserve a disease like type 1 diabetes. They deserve to be healthy and happy and loved and not have a care in the world. But we don't live in a fairytale land, we live in the land of reality - where children and adults are afflicted with diseases which they have some, little, or no control over.
Type 1 and type 2 diabetes are not the same thing - everyone agrees on that point. But they are related in that the treatments are often similar, with similar consequences. Many type 2 diabetics lose a good portion of their insulin producing cells as well. Just because they don't lose all of them doesn't lessen the severity of their disease. In fact, many type 2 diabetes have extreme insulin resistance, which can make it more difficult to manage blood sugar. And guess what? Type 2 diabetes is NOT exclusively a lifestyle disease. I think at least half the type 2 diabetics I know are young and fit. They didn't do anything to deserve diabetes. My own grandfather had type 2 diabetes, as did both of his parents. He was insulin dependent, and lived to a ripe old age while his parents died in their 50's. His diabetes was primarily genetic. Grandpa was always worried about his son and grandchildren, hoping his genes wouldn't condemn them to a life of shots and blood sugar checks. I'm kind of glad he didn't live to see Sarah diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, as I think that would have broken his heart.
Okay... off the ramble. My point is, we're all in this together. And as our world becomes closer through the internet and groups that co-mingle the various types of diabetes, we need to be sensitive and non-judgemental. Yes, your child absolutely didn't do anything to deserve diabetes. But that adult you just dismissed in your head because she's type 2 - does she deserve it any more? And when a child dies from anything it's absolutely tragic. Is it less tragic when a mother dies, leaving children behind? Or when a beloved grandparent dies before their time?
It's so easy to get wrapped up in our own lives and in this disease. Type 1 diabetes turns ordinary moms and dads into ODC maniacs as we struggle to manage this disease. Deaths happen. And no one can tell you how long you or your child will be on this earth - but try not to dwell in the land of what if - it'll make you crazy. Enjoy your life, live the best you can, and respect others for their opinions and what they're going through. If you're angry, let your anger drive you to positive ends. Get out and fundraise. Be an advocate. Mentor a family who doesn't have the resources you do to help them have a better outcome. Hug your child. Weed your garden. Whatever it takes. But before you allow angry words to pass your lips, or fingers, think about why and where you're directing it. Don't hurt someone who is already hurting, struggling with grief, or dealing with challenges you don't understand.
I think I'll go have a cup of tea, hug my child, and sit on my front porch swing soaking up some needed vitamin D now.