Diabetes in the Family

Kerri Sparling Health Guide
  • As I grew up with diabetes, my mother wasn't just "my mother." She was also my nurse, my dietician, and my exercise physiologist. What she had was the powerful combination of necessity and love, driven by the need to take the best care possible of her diabetic child.


    I don't have a clue what it takes to be the mother of a kid with diabetes. I only know what it's like to BE the child with diabetes, completely unaware of how diabetes kept my mother awake at night, making her come into my room in the middle of the night to check my blood sugar. Just in case.


    My mom used to say something that just chewed on my last nerve. It was that "We" word. "We need to test our blood sugar." "We need to take our injection." And as a kid, and a teenage, this use of the word "we" made me absolutely crazy. She and I fought endlessly over it.

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    "It's not WE! It's me, Mom. And it's always me, until you start having lows and highs, or start taking insulin injections."


    Oh, it made me CRAZY. I was trying to grow right on up and take control of my life, and darnit, I wasn't going to allow diabetes to become a hindrance. It was my diabetes, just like my messy room was mine and my tattered sneakers were mine, too.


    But as I think of these conversations, I feel ashamed, as an adult, because I didn't realize how much diabetes affected her. Or the rest of my family. My mom and dad never made me feel like it was a burden, but my 20/20 hindsight shows me that they really made tremendous sacrifices to ensure that my life wasn't hindered. They'd go out to dinner on a Saturday night and come home between dinner and the movie to give me my insulin injection. My mother would coax my hand out from underneath the blankets while I slept, taking a blood sample as gently as she could without waking me. And I know that there wasn't a single doctor's appointment, a single field trip, or a single soccer game that I went to without one of my parents in attendance. Also, I never thought about how my diabetes made my brother or sister feel. Did they envy the attention? Were they afraid that they would be diagnosed, too? What went through their minds as they watched the day-to-day of diabetes?


    We did deal with my diabetes, as a family. But as a kid, I was angry at diabetes and I felt like it owned me. I didn't want to think that it owned my whole family, too. Now, I believe that a whole team of "we" manages my diabetes. My parents and my brother and sister used to be my primary support team, but it has since expanded to include my doctors, my friends, and my coworkers. And now, my core diabetes team includes my husband. We keep me alive and healthy, and happy. The power of the we involved in my diabetes is what makes every day a little easier.


Published On: November 03, 2009