Watching your child hurt, and being powerless to protect them. This is devastating. As your mom, my job was to protect you. And, I couldn't. Like so many other moms I know I have looked back. I know there is no point. I know rationally it is not my fault. But, that doesn't stop the thoughts...I know now I had undiagnosed celiac during my pregnancy with you...did this contribute? I put you in daycare when you were six months old...was this where you caught a virus that could have caused it? And, now...new theories that weren't around twelve years ago...I gave you gluten in your first year of life...this could have caused it. I know these thoughts are futile. Ridiculous. Pointless. They rarely enter my conscious now. But, tucked away, they are still there. And, I'm sorry. I am so sorry that I could not protect you.
Five years. Why did this anniversary bother me more than any other since the first? I was so relieved to go to bed that night. So glad the day was done.
Maybe it is because it has been five years and there is still no end in sight. Five years ago, I was still naive enough to believe a cure was coming soon. I still have hope it will come, but I now know that "five or ten years" is a joke in the diabetes community. They've been promised a cure in "five to ten years" for decades. Maybe it is because now that you have had diabetes five years, I feel this time bomb ticking louder....complications....more than anything else time allows complications. You will have had diabetes ten years by the time you are seventeen. I panic when I even think about that. I know that luck has so much to do with developing complications. I have seen people who have worked so hard still get them. You will have had diabetes twenty years when you are only twenty-seven. Twenty-seven. I was newly married, hadn't even finished my medical training. And, by that time you will have had it twenty long years. And, perhaps the scarier part is that the days that I have any control over the one thing that could prevent or delay those complications is marching closer. You will likely leave my house in six years. Already, I am losing control over helping you to manage your blood sugars. And, I should be. As much as I wish it wasn't, this is yours. And, to succeed at all you must own it. Gone are the days when I could feed you your precisely measured meals and have the luxury of you wearing the dexcom 24/7. These days are about compromise, and fighting the effects of hormones. They are about you becoming the young adult that you will be. And, you will be an amazing one.
Five years. Five years of sleepless nights. Guilt for feeling anger as yet another night is interrupted by beeping machines that intrude into much needed slumber. Guilt for having days that I am just tired of it all. And, what right do I have when you must live with it forever? Five years of explaining to people who don't get it. Five years of hearing upsetting comments that aren't meant to be. Five years of refraining from screaming at yet another person who stares at your pump or dexcom, or asks "what is that thing on your arm?" And, yet five years is just a drop in the bucket compared to the journey you must take.
I hate it. I wish I could take it for you. It is not fair. You did nothing to deserve this.
But, you are going to be ok. And, because of that I, too, am going to be ok.
For every single negative that diabetes has brought, there have been so many absolutely amazing positives. It has changed you. You are the person you are because of it. Your strength astounds me. Your empathy amazes me. It has connected us to a community that we otherwise would never have met. A community that envelops us and supports us. A community filled with super-hero children with type 1, and their un-sung hero siblings. A community of adults with Type 1 that show me that you will be ok. Yes, you may struggle. Yes, you may get complications. But, you will have support. And, that support will carry you. You have friends in Texas, Wisconsin, California...and you support each other. You would never have them if not for diabetes. You have saved your dad. He was alone and because of you he is not alone anymore. He has found what he was always searching for. And, because of that, I know he, too, will be ok. Your journey has led us to work that we never would have done otherwise. Important work. Work that needs to be done.
And, better times are near. The Bionic Pancreas will change your life. Yes, you will still have to wear so many things attached to your perfect little body. You will still have the pinholes and skin breakdown. But, the emotionally exhausting part---the thinking about diabetes every single moment of every single day....it will go away. An amazing man with an amazing team is developing an amazing little computer that will do this for you. And, he too is my hero.
And other amazing concepts like encapsulation...they may be a reality.
So, five years. Five years since diabetes came to live with you. You've lived well. You've traveled across the country, hiked mountains, rafted down rivers, rode across deserts on horses. You've left behind the elementary years and are thriving in middle school. You are exactly where you are supposed to be despite diabetes. You have thrived. Five years, and I couldn't possibly be more proud of you.