How many times do you need to explain the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes?
When my little angel (LA) was first diagnosed, I didn't know the difference but soon got frustrated by peoples ignorance. I have to keep reminding myself that it is not something that everyone knows about - in fact, due to both charity and government education programs and advertising in Australia, the initial instinct of most people is "type 2" and "what did your daughter eat/ was she very overweight?".
That said, last week I had a really rough few days with just stupid and insensitive questions which left me stumped as to how to reply. The first was when a man asked me if I had smoked and drank when pregnant with my daughter, thus causing her diabetes. I was so shocked it took me a moment to reply, and he had walked off before I did (oh but the comebacks I came up with in bed that night!). The other was a seemingly innocent question around how my life has changed since my now 2 yr olds was diagnosed diabetes. I explained that I no longer worked, and was her full time carer... before explaining how excited I was that I had found a child care centre that has trained a number of staff in diabetes management and my LA had just started 2 days a week... the response "well it will be nice to be able to go back to work a few days a week and give your life more purpose". Hmm, because ensuring my daughter is healthy and alive on a daily basis serves little purpose? Working for a big corporation increasing the profits of shareholders gives your life purpose? No, no, I know, doing something that you understand on a daily basis (i.e. working in an office) means that my life has purpose? No, I didn't say any of these things, but REALLY.... in reality, I don't think my life has been any healthier or in better balance than the last 6 months or so. I have two healthy, happy (most of the time) children and a fantastic husband (again... most of the time...). I have created a routine for myself that keeps me very busy and creates a great social and active life for us all and I feel that I have the most important role of my career. The funny thing is that maybe 2 years ago, I could have been that insensitive person asking the question about a purposeful career.
There was definitely a period when my LA was first diagnosed that I felt lost. I had no hesitation in taking on the role of full time carer (which was what the senior hospital staff recommended), however I did wonder whether this was going to be hard on my ego (which had been boosted by my success in my career). In some ways I was lucky with the timing, as I was still on maternity leave when LA was diagnosed (she was only 11mths old). I have a great circle of friends and they circled tighter. My mum was a godsend, learning quickly how to check LA's blood glucose levels and give needles, giving my husband and I some time to spend on our own (and me time to spend exercising). The person who I worry about most (other than LA) is my darling son (DS). He is 4 and very much notices the attention that LA gets. He has had to have fewer treats (a good thing of course) and take a step back around mealtimes, when we have to test and give needles to LA. Of course there are the impacts of LA's moods when she is high or low... but luckily that is rare. I know he doesn't get the same amount of attention he used to and it is one of the things I hope to focus on this year with LA in child care. I am hoping to get up to his school to volunteer reading with the class, working in the tuckshop and helping on sports days.
Overall, life as a carer is good. The two days a week that I "have off" have only been 4 in total so far - so we will see what I end up doing on a regular basis. I love my LA and whilst I would take her diabetes from her in a second, I would not change her in any way. My life is full of purpose, with wonderful, supportive family and friends. There are just a few roadbumps to educate on the way!