Thursday, November 20, 2008

Family Effects

We all know that diabetes affects everyone in the entire family. It affects friends. It affects jobs. It affects every aspect of life as you know it.

Lee Ann wrote just the other day about how it affects her husband and how much it can affect a relationship

Kerri wrote about how ingrained in our lives the little bits of diabetes are.

Our blogs, our lives, our family, our work seems to revolve around diabetes.

We get together and raise a fuss when TV tries to incorrectly portray our disease. We get Disney to change their minds.

We are powerful. We are all different. We are all special. We all have things in common (other than diabetes). For some, it may be a common TV show we like to watch. For some, a common hobby.

One of the biggest things I have learned since finding the Diabetes OC, is what my parents went through. I see parents like Mark and Paige, Naomi, Jill, and Lynnea, I realize I am getting a small glimpse of what my parents dealt with. I am seeing a tiny sliver of the fear, worry, guilt, and life that my parents got handed when I was diagnosed with diabetes.

Is it bad to feel guilty for making my parents angry when I wouldn't eat? Or worry when I ended up in the ER (many, many times)? Or for making them be scared for my future, and what that future might hold?

I do feel guilty sometimes. My dad and I were talking with my aunt the other night. She's in visiting from California. She wasn't around for all of my childhood, so we could only tell her stories. We talked for about 30 minutes. My dad and I taking turns telling story after story of stressful situations and hospital visits. Some of them I remember. Some of them I don't.

I hate that my parents had to go through so much with me. Sometimes I hate it even more so because I am adopted. They knew nothing about diabetes. It didn't run in the family. And I got it. They got me healthy, after an initial scare of being born 1 month early with a heart valve that didn't want to work at first. They didn't really sign on for a sick kid. But yet they got one. And, if I can say so myself, they did a fantastic job handling it.

I know that there were things I didn't see. Breakdowns I never heard. Tears I never saw. But overall, they did a fantastic job of taking care of me and helping me learn to take care of myself. It wasn't perfect. It wasn't without incident. But I came out the other side unscathed.

Sometimes I worry about getting married. Or even getting in a serious relationship. I am a lot like Allison in my lack of relationships. And I wonder how diabetes will take a role in any relationship I might have. I worry that someone will get in and then decide they don't want the trouble of dealing with diabetes (I know he wouldn't be worth it anyway, but it doesn't change the rejection factor). I know that this isn't an issue for some people. Kerri's article Love Me, Love My Diabetes always makes me feel better.

But that fear is still there. It takes a special parent to raise a diabetic child. The choice is not voluntary. Diabetes visits your life and doesn't give you a choice.

But as an adult Type 1, a person can have to choice to enter my life, or to not enter it. So I am beginning to think it takes an even more special person to marry a diabetic. That is voluntary. They do have a choice. And yet they chose to do so anyway.

I am truly sorry about the slightly rambling post. But I have a lot on my mind today. This post is kind of a reflection of my thoughts.


Layne said...

Reading your post has made me think about things in a way I've never really thought about before. I've lived with diabetes for so long I guess I don't really think about how other people receive it. It's just part of me, take it or leave it. But I see you've had diabetes even longer than me so I guess that shows you that everyone's different.

I've been with my husband since high school. And I had a couple of boyfriends before that. I never thought about whether he considered not dating me because of my diabetes. I just asked him and he said no, it never crossed his mind. But I'm sure there are some people out there who are selfish and don't want to deal with it. That makes sense but I've never encountered a situation where someone didn't want to be involved with me (as a friend, lover, whatever) because of my diabetes. I'm sorry that on top of every other worry that your diabetes gives you, you have to worry about that too.

But I think that all the people who love us (including the man that you will one day meet) love us in spite of our diabetes and in some cases because of it, of how strong and independent and responsible it has made us.

And, FYI, I work with a lot of infants who are up for adoption. Some are sick, drug addicted or have any number of issues. These families that are adopting them are some of the most loving wonderful people I meet. Sure, they didn't want this to happen to the baby they were getting. But it makes their heart hurt for the baby, not for themselves. They still love these kids so much and still want them more than anything.

Don't you dare feel guilty for what you put your parents through. They love you and would never replace you in a million years. And any man out there would be lucky to have such a strong, independent woman. Keep your head up, he's out there. ;-)


Jill said...

First of all... (((HUGS))) (I wish I could give them to you in person)

You shouldnt feel guilty at all! You didnt ask to be diabetic! As a parent, its natural to scared...and feel the stress. But thats with anything! Even with my older daughter...I still worry about her, just in a different way. After 4 months of dealing with Kacey's diagnosis, I think we're finally accepting that this is what our life is going to be. Your life just settles into a new "normal" and you move forward with it. You learn to cope in different situations alot different than you did before and in the end I think we're going to be stronger parents because of it. Sure, I still have Mommy Meltdowns...but I usually do it privately. I don't want Kacey seeing me upset because I don't want her thinking its "her fault" and feeling the guilt...because its NOT her fault...its no ones fault! Theres nothing we could have done different to prevent this....and neither could you or your parents. I must takes someone special to adopt a baby and your parents certainly have a special place in Heaven for giving you such a wonderful life :) I keep telling myself that old quote... God would never give me anymore than He thinks I can handle (altho I wish He wouldnt test me so but He knew we were strong enough to make it thru this and now we have to deal with it!

You're going to make a wonderful wife and mother someday and the Mr. Right that chooses to love you will love you unconditionally... the same way your parents have since they adopted you :)