Saturday, June 27, 2015

The diabetes Jedi and four years of Type 1

Four years ago today life threw one hell of a curve ball our way when my son was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. No one in our family expected this. It was like that scene in The Empire Strikes Back when we all found out that Darth Vader was Luke's father and everyone went Whaaaaaaat??

Anyway, in the diabetic community many Type 1's celebrate the day they were diagnosed like they would any other anniversary. It's called a dia-versary. We have never made a really big deal about his disease because I want Chris' life to be as normal as possible. But I thought I would remember this day by dedicating a post to it.

Four years. It's not that long, really. But it feels like more when you consider how much of his life and our life revolves around diabetes. That's 1,460 days of daily insulin injections, testing blood glucose levels, counting carb amounts, and doing math calculations with added injections, bg testing and carbs for those high or low sugars, and possible ketone testing if his sugar is too high. Then there's the constant worry on my end. And the physical, mental, and emotional toll this illness takes on his body.

If I had to use one word to describe diabetes I would say 'exhausting'. It requires constant maintenance. It is never-ending. There is no break, no relief. Everything that my pancreas does naturally without me thinking about it is what Chris has to manually do for himself. I could have pizza and a Sprite while watching a marathon of the original Star Wars trilogy in my bathrobe and not think anything of it. My son can do the same thing, except he would have to pause the movie to test his sugar levels and give himself an insulin injection before he eats. Unless he was low in which case he would eat and drink to bring his levels up and then re-test and dose accordingly because pizza is considered a slow-acting carb which can cause his sugar to spike as the night goes on. Once all that was taken care of he could go back to enjoying the movie. Of course, he could bring his supplies to the couch and do his diabetic maintenance routine without interruption. My point is that unlike me, he can't just eat and watch Han Solo get frozen in carbonite.  He has to be mindful of his body because his pancreas doesn't work.

Yes, this disease can be as burdensome as a non-stop chattering C3PO but some good has come out of it. My son has become more responsible for his age. He knows what needs to be done to maintain his health and he takes it as seriously as a young Padawan training to become a Jedi. I'm proud everyday of his mature attitude.

Also, he takes opportunities to educate people about diabetes. He used to be a bit reluctant to discuss it but now if someone asks him about his pump he doesn't mind talking about it. And during certain school assignments, when it was warranted, he made mention of his disease, which his teachers respected.

Sometimes there are battles. Like when he doesn't want to test again. Or the insulin injection hurt. Or when he's cranky because his sugar level is high. I understand all of these and I accept them because they are the Dark Side of this crappy illness. And because they don't occur every day. For the most part Chris handles his diabetes with dignity and grace. A lots of use of The Force.

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