A Shout-Out to Fathers of Children with Diabetes

Yesterday was Father’s Day, but today I’d like to take the opportunity to give a shout-out to my dad – and all fathers – who care for children, young, fully grown, or any stage in between, with diabetes.

All dads, generally speaking, don’t get enough credit for all that they do for their families. I know that I am fortunate enough to say that growing up, and to this day, my dad (and mom) provided me with everything a child could ask for: a loving home, plenty of food to eat, and endless support, to name a few.

But on top of that, my dad took care (and continues to take care) of both his child and his wife with diabetes. He does everything in his power to make sure that we want for nothing and has dealt with alllllll the highs and lows – and everything in between – over the years.

Thanks for everything!

My dad has always been the “fixer” in the family. When a problem pops up, he just wants a solution to it. So it’s no wonder that he’s felt helpless on the occasions that there’s literally nothing he can do to help with diabetes except wait for the insulin or sugar to kick in (depending on whatever the case may be).

But the other thing you should know about my dad is that he gives everything in his life 110%. Professionally and personally, he never half-asses anything. And I’ve always found that extremely inspiring. He’s a role model for me in that his give-it-your-all attitude and work ethic has taught me to give my diabetes my all. For that, and so much more, I’m thankful.

My dad – just like my mom – is the real MVP. He has done so much for the both of us during this stay-at-home situation, between picking up groceries each week and running all of our errands for us in order to limit our time out of the house. My dad deserves credit, and so do all other T1D dads: You’re doing great. As you help us navigate this new normal, we realize that there’s already so much you do for us. You’re doing your best in these weird times and your loved ones see that and appreciate it more than you could ever know.

Thank you to all the dads out there, but particularly mine: Thank you for helping to keep me grounded during this “challenging time”, and for, well, everything else you’ve done for me in my 27 years (both the non-diabetes things and the diabetes-related things).

The Gratitude Challenge: 5 Things I’m Grateful For

Yesterday, my dear friend Emma (who I did the Ask Me About My Type 1 Podcast with) posted a daily gratitude challenge on her Instagram account. She explained that the leadership training program that she runs teaches participants to develop small habits that change your life. One is to write daily “gratitudes” that help highlight all of your reasons “why”.

I interpret my “why” as the things that keep me going – the positives that help me shine a bit brighter, and the parts of my life that I just don’t appreciate or recognize as much as I should.

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Will you take on the gratitude challenge?

So I decided to take time to list five of my “gratitudes” in today’s blog post, and like Emma, I challenge you to do the same.

Gratitude #1: My people (and pets). Goodness knows that I could and should tell the people in my life that I love them more often than I do. My people – my family, friends, coworkers – are incredible sources of strength and support in my life. They make me laugh, they are there to console me when I’m upset, and they are always generally around to offer wisdom and a listening ear when I need it. And I cannot forget my pets…Clarence the Shetland Sheepdog and Tyrion “Tater Tot” the betta fish bring me joy on a daily basis.

Gratitude #2: A roof over my head (and all things that come with that). I am so lucky to have a home to live in, a warm bed to sleep in, a kitchen to dine in, a family room to relax in…these are things that I absolutely take for granted during normal circumstances, and I can’t help but feel fortunate to have them given these strange times.

Gratitude #3: The ability to work remotely. These are trying times for working Americans…many people are without jobs right now, and I can only imagine how many families this directly and indirectly impacts. I’m appreciative of the fact that I am able to do my job (and do it well) remotely, and in that same vein, I’m glad that my department employs video chat during meetings – it truly does help me feel that much more connected to my coworkers!

Gratitude #4: The wide array of entertainment options available to me. I have so many universes, plots, and characters to explore right now through various books, television shows, movies, video games…and I finally have time to really delve into them in the coming weeks. I’m particularly looking forward to reading more – I used to positively devour books (I read the last book in the Harry Potter series in about 12 hours). My new nighttime routine is to get cozy and read for at least a half hour before going to bed. I find it to be the perfect escape. Plus, I can continue to pursue my hobbies – knitting, playing the mandolin, crafting in general, etc. – with all of this spare time I’m suddenly finding on my hands.

Gratitude #5: God. I don’t think I’ve ever discussed my religion openly online before, but I am a Catholic and I try to practice my faith in little ways on a daily basis. One thing that I do nightly is pray. When I pray, I have conversations with God, and it has brought me so much comfort in the last several weeks. And even if I wasn’t religious, I’m sure I’d still find it beneficial to meditate or reflect at the end of each day…to mull over the things that went well, and maybe some of the things that didn’t, and focus on the positives of the bigger picture.

Bonus Gratitude #6: It’s kind of (okay, definitely) weird to say that I’m grateful for diabetes…but it’s not the thing itself I’m thankful for. Hell no. Rather, it’s the other things – the people, the wisdomthe self-sufficiency, the experiences – that my diabetes has brought into my life that I’d like to express gratitude for.

Now you know some of my many “gratitudes”…why don’t you let me know yours? Tell me what you’re grateful for by dropping a comment here, or by tagging me on Instagram or Twitter. Let’s see how many people we can get to participate.

Thank You

Today’s blog post is intended to be short, but sweet: I want to take this as an opportunity to say thank you.

To my sweetie,

 

Since I published my post last Friday about being “dia-feated”, a dozen or so members of the DOC – and even a couple nonmembers – have reached out to me via social media to share their words of encouragement with me:

“…I enjoy your blog posts and your voice is important to me”

“…your blog reached one person, and that’s enough (for me)”

“I read your blog all the time, and it helps me.”

Each message expressed similar sentiments using different words: Don’t give up. My voice matters to someone.

Again, the intention of that post was never to drive traffic to my blog or messages to my inbox. I was merely trying to express some sentiments that I’d been feeling for a few weeks now. But the fact that so many people DID, in fact, take the time to reach out to me and exchange a few messages with me meant the world. I found each one to be uplifting and truly touching, and if you were one of the individuals who wrote to me, I can’t thank you enough.

It’s funny – but truly wonderful – how kind words from friends and strangers alike can do so much to revitalize your soul and make you see what’s right in front of you: an amazing, supportive community who just gets it.

Thank you.

The Cactus Corner

It seems like everywhere I go these days, there’s a cactus. (Or more often than not, cacti.) They appear in practically every form: I’ve spotted t-shirts, erasers, mugs, earrings, pool floats, and even stringed lights bearing the barbed plant’s likeness. The popularity spike of the cactus collided, by total coincidence, with the debut of my blog.

I’ve rapidly amassed a small collection of cactus items in the past year and a half, with no signs of slowing down. It’s certainly made it easier to represent my brand at all times, without even really trying. And it’s caused my family and friends to associate cacti with me – it always makes me smile when someone spots a cactus in their travels and lets me know that it made them think of me.

But even better, the cactus has spurned creativity in some of my friends who have been especially supportive of my blog and its mission since its incarnation.

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I have some incredibly talented friends.

Hence, The Cactus Corner – a little stretch of shelf space devoted to some of the cacti creations that my friends have made for me in honor of my life with diabetes as documented through this blog. There’s a cheerful, polka-dot-potted cactus that my friend hand-stitched in one section, and a painting of a blooming cactus set against a lovely pink background. Also pictured is a painfully cute pin that I’ve attached to my meter case – a portable cactus that I carry everywhere with me, along with all my diabetes supplies, as a reminder of my blog and of the diabetes obstacles I’ve overcome over the years.

The Cactus Corner is small and humble, but it represents so much to me. It is tangible evidence of the friendships I’ve been blessed with in life. It’s also symbolic of how I’ve chosen to embrace diabetes – pricks and all – for what it is.

So as my Cactus Corner continues to grow and thrive, I will, too.

Christmas Eve and 20 Years of Diabetes

Merry Christmas Eve, to all those who celebrate it! Christmas is one of my absolute favorite holidays. I love spending time with my family and friends, attending mass, baking (and eating) Christmas cookies, and decorating the tree. This time of year is pure magic; a time when I feel most joyful.

This Christmas Eve also marks my 20th year of living with type one diabetes. I don’t remember much from that night in 1997, seeing as I was only four years old. I recall tons of family members visiting me in the hospital and bringing gifts for me. One of the gifts I received was a honey-colored teddy bear that I particularly liked and hugged often throughout my hospital stay.

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Beyond Type 1 featured me on their Instagram Wall of Warriors last year. This is how I #LiveBeyond.

Twenty years with diabetes is a long time. Too long, especially since every couple of years since my diagnosis I’ve been told that a cure would be found “soon”. I’ve come to accept the fact that “soon” just might not be within this lifetime, and rather than dwell on that, I choose to focus on the joy of life itself. How lucky am I to live a full life, surrounded by loved ones, employed full-time, with a roof over my head and food on my plate? How lucky am I to be able to have access to the insulin I need and to have a choice when it comes to the pump and meter I use? How lucky am I to have the knowledge and willpower it takes to manage a chronic illness every second of every day?

I’m extraordinarily lucky. I’m blessed.

That’s what I’m focusing on joy on this significant diaversary. I’m embracing the spirit of the season and recognizing the good in this life. Diabetes takes things away from me sometimes – a full night’s sleep, an occasional dessert, a missed trip to the gym – but I refuse to let it take my joy.