Do you remember the day you were diagnosed? I know that I do. It was the evening of December 8, 2004. I was six years old and rushed to the Intensive Care Unit of my local hospital, where pins and needles were jabbed into me from every direction I looked in. People were standing around me; some asking questions, some talking to each other, some studying papers, and some there probably just because they wanted to join in the gathering. But the two people I remember clearly are a doctor who looked like he was out of a movie, with a long, white doctor's jacket and glasses, standing next to my mom, at the edge of my bed. I don't know how to begin to describe how she looked. I don't even know if what I remember is accurate...after all this was quite a few years back. But what I do recall is her face staring at me. I remember she was a little teary-eyed, she wasn't that calm, but she really didn't appear too distressed either. She kind of just stood there, taking it all in, trying to comprehend what the next chapter in life would bring, and nobody could have had any idea at that moment how much my diagnosis would affect the entire family.
My brother was sick to his stomach, and I think my dad just couldn't believe it. However, all of our lives have changed drastically since that day. Only a few hours before my arrival at the hospital I was so hungry that my parents bought me the worst long-acting carbohydrate possible, Chinese food, despite the fact that my blood sugar was probably around 750 by then. (It was 786 at the time of my diagnosis). We were unaware of the carbohydrates and the way it affected my blood sugar. Hey, we didn't even know my blood sugar at the time! Now, the thought of eating Chinese food when my blood sugar is above 200 is unheard of in my family. Everyone in the family is affected by a diagnosis though, not just the person with diabetes. Besides the change in the their life, there is also a drastic change in the family's life. New eating styles, schedules, and routines are put into place overnight. Additionally, a family that loves and cares about each other are most likely upset after a diagnosis, to say the least, so they have to adjust to seeing their loved one in pain and must learn new ways as well.
Everyone in my family has reacted and experienced different effects of my diagnosis. I remember that my brother, being only 16 at the time and smack in the middle of his high school career, was pretty upset, but was such a great role model and inspiration for me since that day. He was in the hospital with me every day, and if I was ever upset or not feeling too well, he was always there to encourage me and remind me that everything would be ok. My dad was always like the "middle man." He did a little of everything; from learning about my meter and pump, to supporting me on everything I did. He's even an active member of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation in my community now! I specifically remember my dad coming home from work one day, pulling a shot out of the "Diabetes Drawer," lifting his shirt up, and casually walking around the house sticking himself with a needle 10, 15, maybe 20 times in his stomach to show me that it didn't hurt and was OK. Next to the physical aspect of diabetes, I think encouragement is the next most important thing, and my brother and father seriously played that role perfectly. Now, my mom has been someone extraordinary...literally. She has done everything for me, from giving me insulin, to making sure I always have juice with me, reminding me to check my blood sugar, helping me every year raise money for diabetes research, being there when I need to talk or need help; she's done it all, and I never even have to ask, she just steps up to the plate and does what she has to. If that's not the best example in life then I don't know what could top it.
It hurts when I get a finger prick, a shot, or am high/low, but in a different sense, it hurts my family too. When someone you love and care about doesn't feel good, you are upset and don't feel good! And without my family there so we can help each other through those times, my life with diabetes would be so different. That is why a family's positive response to a diagnosis is so vital. Not only does it mentally help the person with diabetes by knowing people are there for them, but it affects their blood sugar as well. If a family can help to alleviate some stress from a life by assisting them or encouraging them, it will have a positive affect on their blood sugar. It also helps the family to assist the child with diabetes, because it mentally gives them an extra responsibility and role in diabetes care. It's important that the family helps the person with diabetes in anything, from physical assistance to emotional support. Bringing a juice a few times to them if they are low, or supporting them in their fundraiser can both have the same meaning, despite their differences. In the end, your family is all you have, and the way a family reacts to diabetes can make or break someone, literally and figuratively. From diagnosis day until the day there is a cure and way after that, family plays a huge role in helping you get through tough times, no matter what.
P.S. Shout-out to my family for simply being so awesome and for always being there for me! You guys rock!
Hello everyone! I'm Hannah! I'm 16 years old and have been living a normal life with type 1 diabetes for 10 years! I'm so excited to share the journey of Penpals United with you through our blog!