This Christmas season, I have been reflecting on the great blessings we have in our lives. At the top of the list are definitely all of the people who have made our last couple of years caring for Kaitlyn possible, bearable and even wonderful. I certainly couldn't imagine going through the experience without the wonderful support of friends, family, the type 1 diabetes community and a great medical team. I don't think there is any way we can begin to repay the kindness and service we have gratefully accepted, but I hope that we can find little ways to pay it forward.
As we have met others in the community with type 1 diabetes, Kaitlyn has had a positive experience talking and relating with them. A while back, we were at the beach and my husband met a lady with type 1. He asked if he could introduce Kaitlyn to her. The lady was a mom with two kids -- she smiled and asked Kaitlyn questions, and they talked while Kaitlyn smiled shyly. It occurred to me that the more people with diabetes that Kaitlyn meets in the community, the more support she'll feel. Recently, a little girl moved into our neighborhood; she's older than Kaitlyn, but was diagnosed only a year ago. We had a chance to talk with her and her parents and share experiences together. Her parents mentioned that she has felt alone and awkward around her peers since her diagnosis. She seemed really excited to meet someone else in her shoes. It was fun for Kaitlyn, and I hope that we were able to pass along a bit of the same feeling that Kaitlyn felt when she talked to the lady that day at the beach.
Another way we have tried to pay it forward is to attend diabetes research events. Last year, our family participated in the JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes. We spent a couple of months gearing up for it by asking friends, family and coworkers to contribute to the cause. We were amazed and humbled by the generosity of those who contributed. My brother-in-law also made awesome T-shirts for the whole family with a cute picture of James and Kaitlyn with the words "Cousins for a Cure." The day of the walk was one to remember! We had never before seen so many families of children with type 1 diabetes all participating in a united cause. It was truly an emotional and memorable experience. We hope to participate in many more of these events and in some small way continue to give back.
About the author: My name is Kim. My daughter Kaitlyn (the third of our five children) was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes just a few years after my nephew James was diagnosed with the same disease. I'm excited to pair up with my sister-in-law, Jen, to share our story with you!
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.