This month marks fourteen years living with diabetes. They were not easy years. They still are not easy. Each year has its own challenges--sometimes it seems like each day has its challenges! I have had some amazing supports throughout the years however. I found a family online, some of whom I have met in person and some I still hope to meet one day. They have helped to keep me going--offering support, words of encouragement and the occasional kick in the bum to send me in the right direction.
I thought it would be a great time for me to share with you a few of the tips and tricks that have kept me marginally sane and allowed me to get up each day.
1. It's okay to cry. We all have our moments. We can't carry the full burden of worry and care. It's okay to breakdown now and then. Do it in the shower where you can scream at the top of your lungs. Allow your child to scream too. When you are both exhausted, hold onto each other and look at how best to move forward together.
2. Find people of a similar nature. Meet people online or in your community who get it. Seek them out, ask them how they handle things and simply enjoy being around other people who get it. Allow your children to spend time with these people as well so that they understand that they are no alone.
3. Take a day off. As a parent, take time for you. Leave your children with you someone you trust and focus on you for a few hours or an entire weekend. It will be hard at first. Diabetes will be in every other thought. Push it further away until you can slowly feel the weight on your shoulders lift just a little. Feel the tightness in your chest relax just a bit and breathe. Give your child with diabetes a day off as well. Test for them, bolus or inject for them, and count their carbs. Let them just be for a day. They get burdened as well. Let them have that small break without nagging or worry.
4. It is okay to punish your child for not doing diabetes related chores. This one was huge for me. As a parent, we carry some guilt when our children are diagnosed. We are to protect our children and somehow we failed and they ended up with diabetes. No this isn't logical but being a parent isn't always about logic. This is just how we feel. This feeling makes it very difficult to lump testing their blood glucose levels into the same realm as making their beds. It isn't but it is in the same realm as having a bath and brushing their teeth!
Diabetes sucks. We all agree but this is the hand that we are dealt. Testing bg levels and somehow injecting insulin into their bodies is not negotiable...to a point. As parents we may have to come down in our expectations of how often our child will test and we have to remember that occasionally they will be feeling so "normal" that they may forget to bolus. It is important that we find a balance between our ideals and what is safe. We then have to remember that we can say "Since you did not test at least once when you were out with your friends last night then you will not be allowed to go out with them tonight."
5. It really isn't our disease. If we are not the ones living with diabetes, it is not our disease. Even if you do live with diabetes and your child has diabetes, it is still their disease. That is an incredibly hard concept to deal with! We want to take this burden from them. We want them to do it our way because we have been learning for years and we know best...but none of that will happen. We will hope that most of what we have told them will sink in. We pray that we will be that little voice in the back of their head when they are about to do something stupid. We standby ready to pick them up and help them when they stumble along the way, but we somehow have to let them find their way.
For me, the last point is the hardest. I do not want my children to have to learn the hard way. I don't want them to stumble. I want to protect them at all costs...but I can't. I have to let them fly. I have to be confident in all that I taught them. I prepared them to be on their own. They are smart. They are good children. They are a reflection of us.