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From a girl with diabetes to the mother of a child with diabetes
November 23, 2020 / Advocacy / Family and diabetes / Child / Type 1

From a girl with diabetes to the mother of a child with diabetes

12 min read

 I was a child with diabetes.  I am 33 years old now.  I often had a hard time accepting the fact that I had an illness that would haunt me for life. I had a feeling that I would never be able to change “because of it” and that I would forever have a child to take care of most of the day and night.  I also often felt fear, disbelief, mistrust, anger, guilt, and immense sadness.  I was a child, and my mother took care of my illness.  From an adult perspective, I now see that all of these feelings were actually my mother’s feelings, which I integrated as my own.

 

At a somewhat later age, when I began to take responsibility for my illness on my own, all those feelings became just mine.  As a child, I knew that I was getting more attention or care, but I can’t say that my parents kept me under a glass dome because of diabetes, as far as every decision in my life is concerned.  In fact, they let me bring each one on my own.  My mother, a highly neurotic by nature, reacted hysterically to my conditions of hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia.  Also, she was very angry when I ate something past the customized child and thus spoiled her three-month profile picture.  I was her success and her failure.  And so from an early age I adopted patterns such as: bad glucose = bad person.  All this would lead me to bad decisions, a very rapid loss of motivation, isolation from family and friends, given that I am a great perfectionist.  Furthermore, poor regulation was due to puberty in which increased hormone secretion nullified the action of insulin.  I was like a Chinese tourist without a guide in determining the doses.

Good regulation meant I was also a good person.  My mother was happy and I was calmer because she was happy. So was my doctor and that meant we were doing everything right.  Today, I know that the more important end result of the control, which was anything but good at the time.  I was getting more and more revolted towards my illness, I just wanted everyone to leave me alone.  Today I know that only I can make a difference with small steps.

 Today, I know that I am the mother who needs to take care of her inner child, nurture it, and also let it develop, because life is not just about caring for diabetes.  As I began to look more relaxed at my once great burden, things became more resilient and I accepted them much more easily.  Today, due to the influence of my “fighting mother”, I can say that I am not afraid, with diabetes, to try to make my dreams come true.

 Today, because of diabetes, I can say that I respect the boundaries of myself and others more.  And yes, I often wonder if I would have been different if I had never had diabetes, if relationships in our family would have been different – with less sadness, worry, quarrels over my outbursts of anger that were the result of protesting the feelings I had and didn’t know how to deal with them.

 

And what would my integration into society look like if, instead of measuring my sugar, I smoked with my peers on a recess in the school toilet?  Today I see that I was no different, except that I was more responsible, grateful and that I learned to value life more and enjoy it as if it were just one, which it is.  Today I want to be neither less nor more than what I really am, shaped by the experience I have had.  Today, I pay tribute to the courage of myself and my comrades with whom I exchange a few tips and information every day, as well as the little support that is there to say: “You are not alone.”  Today, every small success is great.  Even today, my child is old enough to say, “I am the best in the world and I can love myself and others, even though my sugar is a little shakier.  Today on comments about how selfish I am because I take care of myself I just shake my head because I know that taking care of myself means I will be able to take care of others as well.  Even today, to every statement: “You can’t because you are diabetic”, I prove that I can do it twice.

Tara Gamulin Read more posts by this author
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