Monday, October 02, 2006

Life B.D.

I was "born into" diabetes more than twenty-four years ago at the age of nine. And at some point between then and now I have forgotten what life was like Before Diabetes (B.D.).

I have said before, and I'll say it now, that I think diabetes is worse on the parent than it is on the child who is diagnosed. Oh, sure, I had my ups and downs early on. I was a wimp when it came to shots, for example, and so I went one-and-a-half years before I finally gained the courage to do it on my own.

Well, okay. I didn't have courage. Rather, my parent were so fed up with my refusal to do it myself that they gave me an ultimatum. Prior to that ultimatum, I twice before started to give myself my shots. Once, in order to be "rewarded" with a new bike. Of course, shortly thereafter I miraculously froze up and couldn't do it. Another time, they uped the ante, and bought me a new computer if I jabbed myself. I did, and I got the computer, and once again froze up.

The last time, however, was a bit more compelling reason. I either started to give myself a shot, or else my backside would experience the belt. Some might consider that a form of abuse. But guess what? It worked, and never again did I have any trouble injecting myself. Amazing how that works.

Anyhow, the point is there is the early learning stuff, the lifestyle adjustments, and the bouts of jealousy when your friends are eating M & M cookies or having a second slice of chocolate cake, but all in all, you just deal with it.

Parents, though...they can never let it go. They can never stop worrying about their son or daughter. They can never stop wishing a better life for them, wishing away the finger sticks and constant jabs, and wishing they could live a "normal life" again. There is that passion there for diabetes research, and the hope that they will, within their own lifetime, see their child cured from this hideous disease.

But I can't help but stand back and advise parents to relax. There are far worse things your child could be going through, and guess what? In time, diabetes will become no big deal. A time will come when they, too, don't remember Life B.D. I certainly don't.

I do remember the false hopes that my own mother's passion for a cure gave...and the ultimate let downs that resulted. I followed the progress of research for years, seeing each small step forward an indication that a cure was "just around the corner". But over and over again, that hope resulted in far worse pain. And to this day, I see such hope as harmful to kids. But kids have to come to terms with their disease. They have to understand that they are likely stuck with it for the rest of their lives. Only when that happens can they get past the jealousy and self-pity they will experience at times.

It isn't beneficial to think there is a cure soon. Perhaps there is. Perhaps five years from now, I won't be able to blog about my life as a diabetic because I'll be living a normal life. Perhaps. But most likely not. Instead, I deal with my disease as just part of who I am. It is the hand I was dealt, and now I have to play the hand out the best I can.

I can't tell parents not to worry. I'm a parent, and since there are life-threatening food allergies and asthma, I can understand that worry. But please, for the sake of your child, don't pass that worry on to them. Don't ever, for once, think that by highlighting all the "bad things" that could happen to them or does happen to them now (shots, BG testing, etc.) that you are in any way helping your child. You're not. Guess what? For 24 years (well, actually more like 22, since when I was dignosed, BG meters weren't really around for most of us), I've lived with those finger pokes and jabs with the syringe, and I'm stronger for it.

My Life B.D. is gone. A distant memory. And I'm not sorry for it. You shouldn't be sorry for it either.

5 comments:

Minnesota Nice said...

Ryan,
That was very nicely put - something I needed to hear even though I don't have children.

(Also, I am still working on the "guessing" of my bg before I test, and some interesting conclusions are starting to emerge. I'll write about it after another few weeks.)

Martha O'Connor said...

Really nice, Ryan. The one thing I'll say is that once a year we count up shots, fingersticks, and infusion set changes... and put that data in our JDRF letter. Somehow 7,000 fingersticks makes an impact on people. If we obsessed over every bg test in real life, well... we would fall apart in tears 10 times a day.

I still do have my rough days as a mom, though. I try not to let me son see it. That's what is great about CWD and other support groups.

RyanBruner said...

Martha:

7000 fingersticks is a lot. I'd hate to know how many I've put up with in my life. 22 years of it. Although, when I first started, checking BG was more infrequent than it is now because it was so expensive. Well, it still is. *Sigh*


Minn. Nice:

Good for you on playing the "guessing game". I hope it is beneficial. I'm interested to hear what "interesting conclusions" you see emerging! Keep it up.

MileMasterSarah said...

Ryan,
Good post! My mom is a type 1 diabetic diagnosed at age 11, so when I was diagnosed at age 13 (and she was 38 or 39) she had long ago put away any real hopes for a cure. I don’t remember ever wondering when there was going to be a cure. I did ask my mom about it once, soon after diagnosis, and she told me (not verbatim here!) that they’ve been telling her there is going to be a cure since she was 11 and twenty some odd years later there still isn’t one so she isn’t holding out. She taught me to live life and take diabetes with me. That is really all you can do. Live for today, you might not have tomorrow!

Kelsey said...

I agree too Ryan.

For some reason I've never bought into the idea of a cure being "5 years away." From day one, I figured I'd have this forever and if a cure did come along, well that would be a pleasant surprise.

Very well said.