We recently enjoyed the company of a lovely twenty-three month old little girl for a day. It was a big change for us because other than her, we have no real dealings with small children and haven't for years. I see my nephews only once every couple of years and any other children we are around tend to be a lot older.
We learned about Special Agent Oso and Thomas the Train. She had fun coloring and playing in strange places and I got reacquainted with the art of changing diapers. As lunch time approached, she plopped herself down at the spot where my son had laid out his lunch fixings. He had bread and jam, which she was interested in having herself. He also had his meter and lancet. I watched as she looked them both over. I was nervous that she would accidentally lance herself but she just continued to investigate.
As I watched her, I realized that she is the exact same age that a friend's daughter was when she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. I remembered that my own child was only a few months older than her when he was diagnosed. I saw those little fingers that wrapped around mine to take me to her next place of discovery and was immediately sent tumbling down the rabbit hole. I remembered that when my son's fingers were that small I used to have to cover them with blood before he ate. I remembered how he never flinched when I injected him but would refuse to eat anything that was put in front of him. I remembered my tears of frustration and his cheeks bulging with the food that he put in his mouth but would not swallow. I prayed that she would remain the healthy little girl she currently was and would never experience any pain or disease.
She was soon off again, searching for my son and wondering what her grandfather was doing. She played with the dogs and eventually sat down to watch TV before having a nap. I was ready to nap with her but shook it off and made some blueberry muffins instead.
After a short nap, she was recharged, refreshed and ready to go again. She found a new place to play under the kitchen table and amused herself for quite awhile. After some serious playing she had worked up and appetite and looked at my fresh muffins with hunger in her eyes. I gave her a bit and my son had the rest. I told him the carb count and automatically calculated the carbs in the piece of muffin and small yogurt that our tiny guest had. I smiled when I realized how automatic this was and again, I said a small prayer hoping that she would never have to worry about the carb count before eating any of her meals.
For years, I could not look at small children. I would see them toddling off to preschool and entering their kindergarten classroom and the memories would come flooding back. They were so small. My boys were that age once. When my youngest was that age he had to bring a meter, spare juice and a needle. His mother went everywhere with him. I watched for stumbles that were not from untied laces but from blood glucose that was dropping without warning. There were bumps, bruises and cuts from missteps when low but we had made it to the teen years.
Now he is a tall young man who will soon be looking down on me. He lives in the fridge and has friends all over town. He spends days away from Mom's prying eyes. He boluses and tests on his own. His hands are calloused from testing and his fingers are no longer covered in blood when he tests.
No one should have to live with this disease but despite it all we are...we are living our life and enjoying each day.