Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Hummm, I was re-reading the first 2 posts on our journey and decided I would shorten our story and limit it to a few important points. There is simply too much that goes into the way diabetes affects a family to be able to accurately put it all down into words. I will use this writing to talk about my oldest non-diabetic daughter, Amber.

One of her biggest fears in the beginning was that Nikki would die and never come home from the hospital. Amber didn’t tell me that for a couple of years. Actually, one of her teachers, who is a good friend of mine, shared that with me. I was able to bring it up in a conversation and Amber then opened up and expressed her feelings. It’s important to remember that a chronic illness affects just more than just its intended victim. Every member of the family is going through their own stuff.

Amber and I have had the chance to engage in many talks over the years and I do try and put a lot of emphasis on keeping the non-judgemental doors open for both my girls; I guess only time will tell if I’ve been successful. A big one though is that it is not wrong for the sibling of a diabetic to feel jealous. It doesn’t mean that they are selfish or that they don’t love their brother or sister. It simply means that they are children too, scared, unsure and feeling out of control. As adults, we understand that the tremendous amount of focus diabetes takes does not mean that one child is favored over another. But we have the benefit of adult cognitive and emotional skills on our side; our children do not. To them it can seem as if our every waking moment and thought is focused on the one with diabetes. We just have to be careful and intentionally set some time aside for all our children.

Over the years, Amber has grown to be a very confident sister who feels able to take care of her little sister in certain situations. I have witnessed many times Amber coming up from our downstairs family room, picking up Nikki’s meter, grabbing a juice from the fridge and saying “oh, Nikki is feeling low, I’m taking her meter and juice, I’ll let you know if we need you”. The key word there is “we”. At some point, Amber and Nikki became their own little team in dealing with this disease. As a mom, those are the moments “my cup runneth over” with pride. I do not pry into that relationship and enter it only if they call me.

The best part of this story is that they still argue, they still annoy each other and are still completely “normal” (whatever that is) kids. Diabetes may have tried to take over our lives, but it ran into a brick wall when it met my girls. Instead of defeating them as individuals and sisters, it wound up making them stronger; I got the benefit of having 2 people I consider true heros living right here in my home and life.

More to come………