Tears streamed down my face as James tore through the packaging of the Woody and Buzz Lightyear action figures. Toys don't always make me cry, but the circumstances in this instance really were somewhat remarkable. James was in a hospital bed having just been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. The gift came from my sister‐in‐law, his aunt who had just given birth two days before to a beautiful little girl. My husband's brother related that on the momentous "drive home from the hospital" for his new daughter Kaitlyn, his wife had insisted on stopping by a store to pick up a few things that she knew James would love. And boy did he!
This has proven to be a pattern in our life with diabetes. There are so many unpleasant things: hospital beds, insulin shots, hypoglycemic episodes, counting carbs, waking up nights to check blood sugar, sore fingers, etc. But it seems in our case a pervasive undercurrent of love and mercy moves through our lives, too. One of our greatest blessings has always been the love and care of that very same aunt, Aunt Kim!
From the very beginning, Aunt Kim was always willing to test blood sugar, count carbs, give insulin shots -- and she never complained. She was my lodestar as I was halfway through a Masters Program at the time of James' diabetes diagnosis, and babysitters became very difficult to find. She became somewhat of an expert in his care, learning how to handle any kind of circumstance. Her experience became a blessing in her own life. Three years after that moment in the hospital, I received a frantic message from her, "I think Kaitlyn has diabetes. I am coming to your house." Sure enough, a finger poke revealed a very high blood glucose and we all knew the path ahead. The beautiful, perfect little girl, whose own ride home had been disrupted by an urgent errand to buy a toy for a sick cousin, now shared his diagnosis!
Together the cousins check blood sugar and count carbs. All our extended family have followed Aunt Kim's great example and have learned how to care for them. They know too that while life with diabetes might be a little bit different, it can be filled with all the good things that any other kid might be able to enjoy! Kim and I find comfort in talking to one another about the unique challenges involved in caring for our special kids. We love to take time to help educate others, or give comfort to those in similar situations. But mostly we just enjoy our children with diabetes!
About the author: My name is Jennifer, and I live in Southern California with my husband, Craig, and our three boys. Our oldest son James has been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. I’m thankful for this opportunity -- along with my sister-in-law Kim and her daughter Kaitlyn, who also has type 1 diabetes -- to share our struggles and triumphs with our friends in the diabetes community.
Disclaimer: The experiences and suggestions recounted in these articles are not intended as medical advice, and they are not necessarily the "typical" experiences of families with a child who has type 1 diabetes. These situations are unique to the families depicted. Families should check with their healthcare professionals regarding the treatment of type 1 diabetes and the frequency of blood glucose monitoring. Jen and Kim are real moms of kids with type 1 diabetes and have been compensated for their contributions to this site.