I’ll be honest. For years now, James’ type 1 diabetes hasn’t really felt like that much of a struggle. An inconvenience, yes, perhaps. We still do lots of testing, and we are continually counting carbs, giving insulin, changing infusion sets, and battling blood sugars that are less than ideal. All of that stuff is absolutely a part of our life, but in some ways it has become SUCH a part of our life that it’s hard to remember that it’s hard. Does that make sense?
But occasionally, I’ll have a moment when the reality of what I’m dealing with as a parent of a child with type 1 diabetes will hit me in an odd way. Not long ago, James’ dad Craig took him to Disneyland. He didn’t take anyone else, just James! It was a great day where he got to ride all the things he always has to skip because usually we’re balancing the desires of several children and adults. They were gone all day and pretty late into the night.
As I put Luke and Ben to bed without their big brother and closed the door, I had a weird thought. I realized that as it stood, nobody in that room needed to have their blood sugar checked. Nobody in that room was going to go low or high. I could pretty much close the door and not worry about a thing until the morning light came.
That’s when it struck me that the worry never goes away. It can be well managed, it can be reasoned with, and it can be packaged in a way that becomes just a part of everyday living, but it never really leaves us. And really, there is nothing available right now to totally take that worry away. It is a source of stress that must simply be dealt with rather than eliminated.
I definitely notice that in times of high stress, the little things I do make a huge difference. Eating well and getting a good night’s sleep are always important, but when stress levels are high, all of a sudden they are crucial! Likewise, exercise becomes our good friend. Not only good for our body, the release it provides for our overburdened minds is essential. A lot of that stress release comes from just taking really good care of our bodies. As parents of kids with type 1, we owe it to ourselves and our kids to give back to our minds and bodies the resources that stress strips away!
Recently, in a period of high stress, I found another fun release. It may seem a little silly, but I found a really fun way to pass a couple of hours, and I always feel just a little bit better afterward. I have started coloring! It started when the boys were at work on an art project. I decided to join in and after about an hour or so, I realized that I felt more peaceful and more at ease. So I decided this would be a new little pastime. I now have my own colored pencils and a really intricate coloring book that is just for me!
While I highly recommend coloring as a way to get rid of unwanted stress, I want to emphasize that I think the real takeaway lesson here is that we can find innovative ways to make our lives better and lower our stress load. For me, one of the best things about coloring is that I can do it WITH the kids while they are awake. I can recharge without needing a babysitter! Doing something I enjoy, creating something beautiful just for its own sake, has been a huge blessing in my life, and I now consider it part of my own self-maintenance. I feel like I take better care of James when I’ve taken good care of myself first.
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.
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