I recently got a Facebook message from an acquaintance, a parent of a student in Logan’s grade.
“Hey, is Logan diabetic? I believe I remember you sharing that he was.”
They were staring the diagnosis in the face. Their son, Logan’s age, was in the hospital and they had just received the diagnosis of type 1 diabetes. She found some comfort in remembering that they were not facing this alone. There was someone else they knew, even if just an acquaintance, that had been through this incredibly scary moment and had been able to find their way through.
You remember this moment. You remember when your child was so sick, and you didn’t know why. Then you remember when you told your child they would have to take medicine for the rest of their life. You remember the first time they told you they didn’t want to be diabetic anymore. You remember the first time you told them that taking their pump supplies with them was not anything to be embarrassed about. And if some asked or laughed about it, educate them — don’t brush it off.
Many people may feel like it’s no one’s business to know our medical journey; or that no one wants to know what is happening with the trials and tribulations of teaching your eight year old how to count carbs; or how heart-breaking it can feel to have to pull your child away from the fun of a birthday party to check his sugar and give him insulin.
But those stories will matter to someone.
According to JDRF, 64,000 people are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes each year. Someone will need to know your story. I promise you.
So how can you share your story more? Social media is probably the easiest way. Share more about the daily routines. Share about the challenges. Let people in your social media world know about your life! Social media can be used as a powerful tool for connection if we allow it to be.
Talk about it in public. Logan is a talker, so I don’t have much to worry about asking him to explain it to people who asked questions, or even people who didn’t. He was going to tell them anyway. But when Logan was first diagnosed, I was able to be a reader for his kindergarten class and I read a book about diabetes. I was able to tell the kids, at a level that made sense to them, why Logan was leaving the classroom so much, or why he didn’t eat all the snacks that they did, or even why he had extra snacks.
And finally, genuinely connect with people. In our world today, we have almost swung to the side of being afraid to talk to new people. But if you take the time to connect with people and be interested in their story, there is a good chance they will talk to you about your story. When that happens, know that you could be serving an incredible need in their life by sharing openly and honestly about your life as a T1D family.
This journey of T1D can feel incredibly lonely if we let it be. We have a tremendous community with CODA and we want others to experience this if they need it! So, continue to be open about your life as a T1D family. Continue to be of service to others who need support and encouragement. You never know when a message will pop up that reminds you that you can never share too much.
In the end, no day is perfect. But that doesn’t mean it is all a loss. How will you find gratitude and joy in your day each day and share that with your child?
This blog post is PART NINE of IT TAKES A FAMILY: LIFE WITH TYPE 1, written by Lindsay Dunlap.
The Dunlap family lives with two generations of T1D, and Lindsay is graciously sharing their experience with us. If you’d like to connect with Lindsay, she’d be happy to talk about the highs and lows with you at email@example.com.
Click here to learn more about the Central Ohio Diabetes Association, including support for families through programs such as Camp Hamwi.