I am not a parent but I have a an unconditional love for my very loving family, two little dogs and one extremely tolerant and supportive boy. I know that you shouldn’t compare the love you share for your dogs to the love parents feel for children but I feel as if its a taste of the unconditional love I hear so much about. Like all love, the thought of anything happening to those who fall in that category is terrifying. In saying this so many of us deal with these nightmares in our lives and we are often still standing after the wave has broken.
Analogies such as these have made me interested in waves of life that my family and I have faced. This November is the first time my parents have been alone in their house since my older sister was born 24 years ago. For my parents this is one of the biggest changes they have faced since I was diagnosed with T1D 15 years ago. As you may have noticed I have had a lot of time to think recently. Living in a room the size of the average Australian jail cell has given me inspiration to ask questions.
So today I share with you the answer to one of my questions thought up as I sat against the walls of my jail cell sized Japanese dormitory. Today I share with you something I find really hard to hear face-to-face. When I talk with my parents about my diagnosis story I find it extremely difficult to battle the guilt that I personally carry with this story. Like every child who has put their parents through some sort of stress in their lives guilt is a common emotion. However my lovely mum agreed to tell her and my dads story about how they coped with this huge life change via every young persons greatest confrontation tool, the internet.
So here it is: my parents story on how they learnt to keep their heads above the waves that broke so heavily on their pristine shore one winter morning in 2000.
Never underestimate the power of Denial
Finally we had an answer – there was a reason why our six year old daughter had started to display all sorts of challenging behaviours.
My husband and I (both health professionals) were scratching our heads trying to work out what was happening. Were there problems at school? Was she finding school work too hard? Was she just being naughty?
The marked weight loss and extreme lethargy should have been indicators yet we were still blissfully unaware.
It was the seemingly unquenchable thirst that made us sit up and take notice. I cant remember if I consulted Dr Google or Harrison’s text book of Medicine but all the signs seemed to be pointing towards Diabetes. I needed to rule it out so found some old Glucostix (expired of course) but worth a try. +++++ for Glucose in the urine. My immediate thought was that the sticks were in some way faulty because of their advanced age.
In an effort to further discount Diabetes my husband suggested that perhaps I might buy a new box. Well it was worth a try. Again I sneakily tested the urine. There was no denying it this time. The test strip rapidly changed colour.
After a very sleepless night my husband rang a contact at the Children’s hospital.
We were still trying to rule out any other condition which may present with glycosuria but of course it was T1D or Juvenile Diabetes as it was called then.
Our sweet, beautiful, quirky, blond haired, blue eyed girl had developed Diabetes and her life as she knew it would never be the same.
She was admitted to hospital early on Saturday July 8th 2000 weighing 17 kgs and having a BGL of 28. As she lay in the Emergency room having all sorts of needles stuck into her she looked up at me and said, “I told you I didn’t want to come. I told you they would hurt me”.
What can a parent do but offer all the love and support that can be mustered despite feeling totally numb inside. I can still picture that tiny little girl with her blonde straw like (malnourished) hair in a bright yellow track suit being a very brave six year old.
She stayed in hospital for 2 days and was then able to attend as an outpatient for a few more. Then we were on our own. Being a nurse the care of the child with diabetes wasn’t difficult but being the parent of a child with diabetes was. There were ups and downs but to Miranda’s credit she made sure that she didn’t miss out on anything and we were right behind her.
She was injecting her own Insulin and testing her own BGL within months of diagnosis. With the help of some very supportive parents she attended sleepovers and went on her first school camp in Year 3 aged 8. There was no way in the world that she was going to let me come!!!
We have come a long way since that cold mid winter day in 2000. For many years I would wake up in the middle of the night and not be able to go back to sleep until I had checked on Miranda and checked her BGL by torchlight. Even now I sometimes wake up with a start. The only problem is that she is in Japan now .
Miranda does like to remind me that in the confined space of a Japanese dorm room she now sleeps in her kitchen and the fridge is only an arms length away
That’s supposed to make me feel better!
Despite spending what seems like forever attempting to control my children’s social media time I am now constantly reassured by their constant use of it. A quick glance at Facebook messenger shows me that she is online and “active”. It really is like being there and certainly beats getting out of bed with the torch in the middle of the night.
–Words by Mary Hewett