I've spent some time recently thinking about what World Diabetes Day meant to me, what did I want from it, what did I hope it's existence would leave for those that witnessed or participated. On Monday night I found the answer to my question...
Arden brushed her teeth before bed, she put on a silly pair of pajamas and climbed under the sheets. Her voice called to me and said that she was ready to be tucked in. When I entered her bedroom she had the lights out, her face was illuminated softly by a stream of dimmed light from the hallway. Her eyes were closed, she was pretending to be sleeping so that she could try and scare me as I approached. I stopped halfway into her room to tease her, she was trying so hard not to move, carefully holding her lips together so that she wouldn't smile. I looked at her face for a long moment before I sat next to her so that she could scare me. She popped up, I acted frightened, and then we laughed. We talked about the next morning and she expressed how happy she was that I was able to schedule a play date for later in the week with one of her friends. It was a wonderful few moments, some of the best that I had that day.
Our party was crashed seconds later by the electronic beeps of Arden's CGM. Three beeps to be exact. It's urgent bells told me that her blood glucose was falling, I looked at the clock but I knew that it was doing so far sooner then I planned. Those beeps brought me right back to reality. We tested and continued to mess around, Arden's spirit was unchanged. I decided that Arden needed a juice box, she didn't want it, actually Arden hasn't enjoyed a juice box in some years because they feel like medicine after all this time. I could tell by the slight change in her face that she didn't want to drink the juice but she didn't make a fuss. I smiled and continued to talk about the next day as she forced herself to drink. It occurs to me now that we were both putting on a brave face for the other.
I hope that World Diabetes Day allows one new person to see my blog today, anyone's diabetes blog really. I'd very much like it if as many people as possible could understand more about type I diabetes. I'm not talking about the tried and true stuff. No talk of how many shots or pokes, those things suck but you can't fully appreciate them if they aren't your reality. But feelings, we all understand feelings.
This may seem on the surface to be a minor thing, a petty inconvenience but please trust me when I say that it's very much more. I sat on the left side of Arden's bed as she forced down a juice box that she didn't want. She did it so that she could go to sleep without worrying that her BG would fall to a dangerous level, she did it because she had to, did it because that's what she does. She tried to keep the happy in her face, tried to hold on to the joy that we made together only moments before. She did a good job, I may be one of the only people in the world that could have seen through her mask.
Watching my daughter with that juice reminded me that there are forces in each moment of her day that manipulate her life. These moments aren't scripted, we don't know when they will happen, how they will end or if we are responding to them correctly. They demand that we stop living and pay attention to them so that we may continue to live. It probably only took her three minutes to consume the juice, but those minutes and all of the ones like them, they steal from us and they take more then time. My hope for WDD is that someone takes the time to understand a little better that which is the life of a person with diabetes, and that they feel as best they can what it means to carry type I through each day. I think that understanding will make an advocate out of even the most casual observer, and that understanding will lead all of us to a brighter tomorrow.
Arden hates drinking juice, I loath having to ask her to do it. Each time acts as a mallet that strikes at my soul. I can't be sure of what it does to Arden, I probably couldn't handle knowing. Please don't think of this as a story about a juice box, it's a story of a chronic disease and it's effects on an innocent person. I began this post with the intention of describing the sadness that watching diabetes do what it does has on me, but I can't find the words. I guess I'll simply say that it hurts, physically hurts me. It changes me. Some days and in some ways for the better, sometimes for the worse, but I am inarguably changed.
November 14th is World Diabetes Day, November is Diabetes Awareness Month, people that live with diabetes do so bravely each and every second of their lives. Please try and feel what that means, let it change you.