The Hardest Part About Having Diabetes

The hardest part about having diabetes is experiencing the mental and physical challenges that come with managing it…and knowing that a loved one with diabetes goes through those exact same hardships, and there’s nothing to be done about it (besides supporting the loved one as much as possible).

Difficult mode: Activated, when a loved one also has diabetes.

I say this because my mom also has type 1 diabetes, as I’ve mentioned on this blog before. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve grown to appreciate more and more over time just how much it took for my mom to take care of both her diabetes and mine throughout my childhood and teenage years, in addition to her many other responsibilities. I have a lot of respect for how she handled everything (relating to and apart from diabetes) with grace and tact, and how she made sure that I handled the transition from her being my primary diabetes caregiver to me independently taking care of it when I was ready to do so.

But with age and my increasing awareness of just how much my mom had on her plate also comes an greater sense of sadness, lamentation, and resentment over the fact that my mom knows just how hard diabetes can be because she literally has to live with it, too. Every time that I have a tough diabetes day, whether it be a series of technology fails or a stubborn high that just won’t come down, I think of my mom and wish that she didn’t have to deal with the same shit, too.

This post follows a somewhat rough diabetes week for me, defined by a string of frustrating blood sugars and a total lack of adequate sleep. It sucks to know that my mom also goes through weeks very much like this from time to time, but rather than wallowing in that, I’d say it’s important to recognize that we are both so much stronger for getting through them. That, coupled with the undeniable fact that diabetes helps us understand one another in a very unique way is something much more positive to focus on.

What Every Parent of a T1D Child Needs to Know

This was originally published on Hugging the Cactus on August 28, 2019. I’m sharing it again today because due to various events in my life lately, I have a whole new appreciation for just how challenging it can be to be a parent to someone with diabetes. It’s far from easy and I give all the credit in the world to parents of children with diabetes. But I also think it’s worth reiterating that despite all the (valid) fears and concerns that parents have about their T1D children, it’s also important to have faith in knowing that it will all be okay. Read on for more…

I may not be the parent of a T1D child, but I am the T1D child of my parents. So I have a unique perspective on the concerns and fears that a parent of a T1D child might have.

I also have a little more insight on these concerns and fears through my interactions with many parents of T1D children over the years. These parents had children of all ages: from toddler to teenager. Their children ranged from newly diagnosed with diabetes to multi-year veteran of T1D. Despite these differences in ages and years with diabetes, they’ve all had something major in common: An intense fear over the day when their child would make the transition from living under their roof to living independently, on a college campus or in another living situation.

The bottom line? It will be okay.

The mere thought of their beloved son or daughter going through this was enough to make some of these parents on the verge of tears. It was heartbreaking, but also somewhat confusing to me. I understand the unconditional love that parents have for their children, so naturally, they were terrified at the thought of their children feeling alone as they made the transition to young adulthood, or frightened by the prospect of their children suddenly not wanting to take care of their diabetes anymore. But what I didn’t get was why they automatically assumed the worst.

What if their child thrived in this transition? What if their child found a wonderful group of people, such as the College Diabetes Network, that helped them through this period in life (like I did)? What if their child was ready to manage everything on his or her own? Certainly, it would be a source of pride for a parent to witness his or her child do well and embrace independence.

On the flip side, if a young adult with T1D struggled to make the transition smooth…well, I told many of these parents that it’s okay. Because I struggled. A lot, actually. But I made it through. The longer I spent away from home, the more I realized that it was time for me to hold myself accountable in terms of diabetes management. There was never really any big “aha” moment for me. It was more of a slow-and-steady recognition of the fact that the shitty blood sugars I was constantly dealing with could only be changed by me, and me alone. So I took the steps I needed to; naturally, with the support of my parents.

I guess that’s kind of the two-fold message I’m trying to convey here to worried parents of T1D children: 1) Have faith in your child’s ability to adapt to change, and 2) Never underestimate how your support, in any form, can mean the world to your child. Don’t be afraid to have conversations with him/her so you can get on the same page and understand how you’re both feeling about this new life stage. That way, you can find out exactly what kind of support you can offer to your child that he/she will find most helpful.

The bottom line: Parents with T1D children, it’ll be okay. Just like people with diabetes know they’re not alone in their struggle against it, you should also know that there are many other parents out there who probably feel the same as you.

In that way, we’re never truly alone when dealing with new challenges or changes in our lives. Once that’s realized, it becomes a million times easier to figure out the best way to tackle them with your support system by your side.

Happy Birthday to My Brother!

Today’s blog post is taking a personal turn because I’m using it to wish an extra-special birthday to my big brother!

It’s a milestone birthday – let’s call it age 29.999999 – and as such, I wish that I could celebrate it with my brother in person. But seeing as he lives about a thousand miles away from me (no exaggeration), coupled with the fact that travel isn’t exactly something that I personally feel is a smart idea right now, we’ll have to settle for a virtual celebration at the moment.

Happy Birthday to My Brother
A sunshine-y birthday graphic for the kind of guy that is FAR from dull!

So before I continue with this birthday post, one thing you should know about my brother is that he’s just about the polar opposite of me in every sense of the word – I’m 5’3, he’s over 6 feet tall. I have blue eyes, blonde-ish hair, and fair coloring, whereas he has brown eyes and hair, and a much tanner complexion. And I choose to share my life pretty freely on the Internet (case in point: this blog), but he’s much more private in comparison. (As a result, my bro shall be known as “my brother” to help maintain his privacy.)

And now to tie everything together a bit – this blog about diabetes, this post for my brother, and my relationship with him – another thing you should know is that I don’t have a single memory in my lifetime of my brother treating me differently because of my diabetes.

I’ve never heard him complaining about living with two T1D women (my mom and I), not once.

I’ve never felt judged by him for any choices I’ve ever made about my diabetes.

I feel like he may be the only person that I’ve ever met (and possibly will ever meet) who is completely, 100% impartial to my diabetes…and that’s really cool to me, for a bunch of reasons. But mainly because I think he realizes that I have plenty of other sources in my life that will judge me, treat me differently, or react in some way to one or more facets of my life with diabetes, so he just stays out of it.

I’m thankful for that.

One final thing you should know about my brother (besides today being his birthday, how different he is from me, and how nonchalant he is about my diabetes) is that he’s pretty effing fearless – he goes beyond being chill about my diabetes, he is chill about errrrrythang. He moved to a brand-new state, met all sorts of new people, found a nice living situation, started a new job, and oh, he also got into the best shape of his damn life and has officially run a marathon and become a certified personal trainer, all in the last three years. And he’s acted borderline blasé about all of his achievements. Like, WTF!!! In contrast to my high-stress, always-anxious, and wound-up-tight self, he’s the coolest cucumber and I hope that he knows I’m proud of him and can’t wait to see what he does next.

Happy birthday, bro – please don’t be mad at me for telling the world (okay, the 7 people who read this blog) about how awesome you are.