Last week I asked my 6 and 7 year old daughters what it was like living with a diabetic mommy? I thought (or hoped) that they would say something along the lines of:
“She is brave”.
“She takes good care of herself”.
“We are not afraid of diabetes.”
“Diabetes is just part of her.”
“She can do anything”.
Instead they talked about fear, death and dying. All the “stuff” I try to avoid. The “stuff” I do not talk about when it comes to diabetes. Death. Dying. Fear. Oh…..
Is this good? Bad? A failure on my part to realize they were afraid of losing me to diabetes? They never seemed afraid or scared. They never acted afraid of scared. Or did I just choose to ignore it? Gloss over it to protect myself?
It was an eye opener for me. Was my own “put it on the back burner” fear that apparent to them? I must say, I don’t really think about dying from my diabetes unless something pops up like a super high blood sugar or a sign of potential complications. Then I do “freak out” a little bit and worry internally. But those moments pass.
However, on a daily basis, I don’t sit and ponder about death and dying. Day to day, I choose not to linger in negativity that could so easily arise from any chronic disease like diabetes.
Or maybe it was not even me. Had society convinced them that the diabetes was something to fear? A bad and horrible disease.
I tried to get more specific answers from them. Why are you afraid? Did someone tell you diabetes led to death? Why do you think diabetes is a bad disease? Repeatedly, I got “I don’t know”. “I just feel that way.”
There were no tears or immediate signs of sadness, anxiety. It was all so matter of fact. Calm and collective. Odd to me. For when I am forced to think about the possibility of dying from diabetes (i.e. gastroparesis testing, etc.), I get all bent out of shape. Anxiety, nervousness, and tension appear. Luckily, test results have come back negative or my super high blood sugars have resolved, and I go on living my life. Back to “normal”.
So why were they acting so “normal”. The words coming out of their mouths were not “happy” words. Death. Dying. Scared. If I just took those words and “ran with them”, I would be pretty upset. However, their emotions were so calm and relaxing. The emotions did not match the words coming out of their mouths. How could death and dying be calm? Non-chalant?
Immediately, I blamed myself. I seriously never thought my daughters were afraid of losing me to diabetes and had bottled up all these feelings. If anything, I hoped I was teaching them that one could live a great life with diabetes if you took care of yourself. Yes, it took dedication and willpower and time, but that was okay. Diabetics could run marathons, go to the zoo with their kids, play at the park, etc.
But apparently, fear and death overruled.
Wait a minute. Stop.
If I was honest with myself, I would say that diabetics can do anything they want to do. However, if someone was to probe deeper and ask me if I feared dying from diabetes, I have to admit, I am afraid of diabetes complications, not having a great quality of life, and potentially dying. Dying from anything. It just happens that diabetes is right here, right now.
Why else would I test my blood sugar 12 times a day, watch what I eat, run, test, bike, test, meditate, etc. I do all I can to be and feel healthy. To take control of diabetes so it does not control me. At least I know deep down in my soul, that I am doing all I can do.
Go back. Hmmm….There it is……This underlying feeling and emotion. Control. Lack of control. And where that may lead.
But, that is okay. We all want to control our lives to some degree. I just happen to have the added element of diabetes. Control feels good whether it be good blood sugar readings, losing weight, finishing a marathon, or finishing a project. We have set our minds to something, and we have accomplished it.
Take it a step further. Does it have to be accomplished successfully? Years ago, I would have said yes. I remember as a child, I would hold my breath waiting for hemoglobin A1c test results. Was I a good girl/diabetic or a bad one?
That has changed (thank God). I do all I can to take control and to be healthy. Yet, I finally realize that diabetes and life are not going to be perfect every single day. Imagine how boring that would be. I can only try my best and see where it goes. Try, try, try. Don’t give up.
And I while, there may be a deep seeded fear of dying someday from something (diabetes, a car accident, cancer) who knows, I cannot get caught up in that. I have to live my life every single day. And part of my life includes diabetes.
That’s okay. It has to be. I cannot make diabetes magically go away. But I can work with it. Respect it. And teach my children that living with diabetes is a challenge that makes me a strong person. Diabetes teaches me so much about myself. I can do anything I want to do, but I may need to make some accomodations.
Challenges are part of life. Fear is part of life. And death is part of life. With or without diabetes. Amongst the challenges and fears, however, are some pretty incredible things. Like my two daughters.
Thank you for teaching me so much about life. We still have so much to learn together, but we are off to a great start …