Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Forgotten Child

"Mom, would you do all of this stuff if I had some disease?"
"Absolutely!! I love you both equally and if there was something that you had to deal with, I would do everything in my power to make it better for you as well.  I pray you never have diabetes or anything else but I will always be there for you no matter what."

About two years after my youngest son's diagnosis, my oldest child and I had the above conversation. It broke my heart that he could feel that perhaps he was not as important.  He knew what his brother had gone through and never complained about special treatment. He spent the night in the ICU with the rest of us when we didn't know if his brother would live.  He has made some of his own sacrifices in the name of diabetes. According to him, he is "The Unknown Child".  He is the forgotten one. He is the one that people don't hear about because he does not have diabetes.

He is far from forgotten and I have done my best to ensure that he realizes that. I do my best to be a part of all of the things that are important to him. Equally, he was extremely important in his brother's diabetes care over the years.  He was my youngest son's lifeline in school for at least five years.  Teachers would often turn to him to ask questions about his brother's care rather than calling me.  He became an expert in carb counting and knew many of the ins and outs of diabetes care.  In fact, when he moved on to another school, my youngest son got a little nervous and had a bit of a rough time getting used to not having him to rely on.

Despite the fact that articles were not written featuring his face, my oldest son became involved in the diabetes community as well.  Siblings of a child with diabetes are very special in their own way.  The support that they offer is second to none. He has developed friendships with some of the wonderful people that we have met over the years.  When we went to our first Friends for Life conference, he disappeared almost immediately after our arrival.  He had friends to hang out with. I gave him a room key and saw him during meals.  After a day spent at Disney with this amazing group, he came home with tales of carrying four and five meters for other guys while they went on rides and had his pockets filled with strips and other diabetes "gear". 

Now he has had his times when he has complained that his younger brother gets everything. He thinks his sibling gets all the attention and my poor little forgotten child gets none.  On the other hand, his younger brother has said the same thing so I am pretty sure that both of them of are full of it and just trying to get their own way at the time.

Today is my oldest son's seventeenth birthday.  I have no idea where the time went or how I could possibly be the mother of a child that age.  I can still picture him in my arms in the hospital on the day he was born. I never wanted to let him go.  Now he is seventeen and I have had to let go.  He is in another part of our province finishing high school.  He has a drivers licence and a girlfriend. He is an excellent student and a wonderful young man. We have had teen issues to deal with...and probably will have a few more, but all in all, I am so very proud of my son. He is growing into an incredible young man. 

Happy birthday my far from "forgotten" one!!


  1. Happy birthday! Yesterday was mine.
    My D child will be 17 next month and my non-D is 11. In the beginning, especially, he felt very left out and forgotten. Even asked me to check his sugar all the time and would get depressed. Can totally understand the dynamic. It is hard as parents. We want to give them both everything equally, but sometimes it just isn't possible. We just have to try and remember to take a step back and recognize it. I make special time to cuddle with my non-D, to give him a little more attention here and there to make him feel special. And he is is brother's biggest supporter, best friend and worst enemy wrapped all in a 4'10" package.

  2. Teared up a bit. B/c your story could be my story...Bridget's story....except you are a few years ahead of me in the "D" journey. Bridget has frequently felt "less than" or "forgotten" or that she fits the bill of the "unsung hero". I think caring for her has, at many times, worried more than the psychosocial implications of "D" on Joe. Weird, huh?

  3. "What is equal is not always fair and what is fair is not always equal."

    Happy birthday!