Yesterday, I saw a post on Facebook from a high school friend. She was sharing a post from a friend of hers, who was appealing for prayers for her granddaughter, who had just been diagnosed with T1D and was hospitalized in the same ICU that took care of Maddy.
I don’t personally know this woman, her daughter, or her granddaughter. But, I feel like I almost-know them. They reside in the town where I spent my middle school, high school, and college years. We share at least one friend in common, and probably others as well. It’s as close as we have come to personally knowing someone whose child has been diagnosed with T1D. I wanted to offer some support, so I sent a message to them. I shared a little bit of our story, mentioned that my husband and I grew up in the same area and still have family there, and assured her that her granddaughter was in very good hands in that particular hospital. I offered support in any way I could, and left my number and email address.
I can’t stop thinking about this family. I don’t know the details of the child’s condition or the circumstances that brought about her diagnosis, but I do know that this is likely a nightmare for them. This fresh knowledge of the family’s ordeal is compounded by my own invasive memories, as it’s the same time of year in which Maddy was diagnosed in 2011. I can’t escape the thoughts: the days leading up to her diagnosis, the harrowing hours in the emergency room and ICU, the feelings of disbelief and overwhelming fear, the intense training about how to keep her alive once we went home. These memories are still suffocating and deeply saddening to me.
And yet, I feel hopeful too. Having lived this life-with-diabetes for two years, watching Maddy thrive while facing its hurts and hurdles, transforming our family’s world to accommodate this disease and keep on living in spite of it: these are things to be celebrated. One only gains this perspective through experience. I know that, no matter how angry, sad and overwhelmed this family must feel today, that they too will move toward a place of living with diabetes and thriving in spite of its challenges. I want them to know that it is possible to love the journey of life with diabetes as a travel companion. I want them to know that although living with diabetes does not get easier, their skills for handling the disease will steadily improve and they won’t feel at its mercy forever. Is life harder with diabetes? More challenging? Yes. And yet, is it possible for their little girl to do anything she wants to do, even with diabetes on board? Absolutely.