Just My Type: Raising a Child with Type One Diabetes
Getting Away From it All
When does the offer of a night away with your husband make you reach for the antacids instead of the lingerie? When you’re leaving behind a child with type one diabetes.
My daughter, Noelle, is a bright, rambunctious 6-year-old who is eager to enter first grade in just a few days. Only in one way is she not a typical little girl: When she was 4½, in her first month of her last year of preschool, she was diagnosed with type one diabetes.
The diagnosis was devastating and life-altering. Gone were the carefree days of letting her eat whatever and whenever we wanted her to. Gone were the days of cabinets filled with normal household goods and not medical supplies. Gone were days of unblemished baby skin, which was replaced by finger-stick callouses and syringe pokes and infusion-set adhesive burns.
Gone were the days of leaving Noelle with a babysitter — and thus gone were the days of my husband and I having any time to ourselves.
Fast forward to this summer, when a friend offered us tickets to the Red Sox-White Sox game at Fenway Park. We hemmed and hawed about the arrangements but finally decided to go once my mother agreed to take Noelle for the night.
My mother is the only person we trust Noelle with, mostly because she has type two diabetes and thus is familiar with finger-sticks and insulin delivery. Still, type two diabetes is a very different beast than type one, and even my mother finds it all very confusing and complicated. The one other time we left Noelle with her overnight, she remarked to us the next morning, “I don’t know how you two do it.”
“It” is counting every carbohydrate that goes into her mouth. “It” is checking her blood sugar on average 10 times a day, including at least once in the middle of the night. “It” is laying awake praying that the maple syrup we just poured down her throat brings her blood sugar up so she doesn’t go into hypoglycemic shock, or the insulin we just given her brings her blood sugar down so she doesn’t go into diabetic ketoacidosis.
“It” basically is living a life that revolves around a heartbreaking disease that struck our beautiful, healthy little girl out of the blue and changed our lives forever.
Sometimes I don’t know how we do it, either. But we do it because we have to, and every once in a while, we manage to sneak away to someplace like Boston, where despite missing the first inning of the game because of three accidents on the Turnpike on the drive from the western part of the state to the eastern part of the state, we had a lovely night out together. The Red Sox won 10-1.
Sure, the night was interrupted by several calls to my mother to confirm Noelle’s well-being, and my mother ended up calling in sick to work the next day after she spent a sleepless night worrying and checking blood sugars, but in the end, the excursion was a much-needed one for my relationship with my husband and my own sanity.
In the end, I didn’t need the antacids. I won’t tell you about the lingerie.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Pittsfield native Rebecca Dravis is a former journalist who lives in north Berkshire County with her husband and daughter in Williamstown, MA. This is the debut of a monthly column where Rebecca will share her experiences as a parent raising a child with type one diabetes. – Check out Just My Type on the third Monday of every month.