While my perspective immediately changed the moment I received Charlotte’s Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) diagnosis a month ago, it is inconstant. Shifts like her blood glucose levels and insulin doses.
At home alone, I rage at the cruelty of disease, sob for her pancreas, and consume digital stories from kindred T1D spirits and advocates. With others, I am uncertain. Some people have been astoundingly generous with hugs, questions, and compassion. Many are kind yet perfunctory – not really wanting to think about something that doesn’t affect them. And some, surprisingly, won’t even catch my eye – even though they ‘know.’ All of which makes me teary and full-, though sometimes, heavy-hearted.
While Gloria Steinem has always topped my list of heroes, I have a wealth of new ones:
1) Heartbroken, stalwart parents who help manage their children’s disease, react calmly and efficiently to low sugar readings, advocate on behalf or their kids, try to compensate when their kids get an improper dose of insulin at school, and remain present for their other much-loved children. All the while, doing everything else.
2) Courageous children with T1D who are savvy, confident, strong, and possess an unparalleled sense of self-care and responsibility.
3) My little ones, Max and Charlotte, who are the most hilarious, compassionate, infuriating, smart, zany creatures I know.
4) My husband, Jasper, who remains calm and kind when my ferocious anger makes me a hellion.
5) My parents who underwent the unthinkable with my brother Chris’ cancer and death. Their courage astounds me.
6) And my strong, loving, adventurous sister who has always been been there for me, despite my foibles.
Disease is heady. It transforms each moment entirely. Forces me to be the planner I’ve never embraced and gives new meaning to flexibility. And opens new avenues for appreciation, community, and boldness. I don’t wish it upon anyone.