When my son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2007, I was a radio show host, so I was used to having a voice in my community. I soon wanted to speak out about this experience as well. I’ve been so fortunate since that time to write and speak about diabetes. I talk to groups and to media, trying to educate and advocate.
I’ve come to realize, though, the most important diabetes voice I use is the one I save for my son. The one that talks through the real, hard work of how our individual family gets through this. That voice has changed as my son has changed. From laying out a new scary routine at age 2, to taking on school issues as he got older and now, at 9, talking about more responsibility and independence.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about those different voices. Not just mine, but in the diabetes community. The people who speak the loudest do get the most attention. After all, they show up on TV, talking about diabetes walks or they go to Washington DC to advocate to Congress. Those are wonderful, necessary voices. But yours, unique to your family, yourself and your child, is just as important. If not more so.
It’s the voice you use to speak to the teacher at the start of the school year. Or explain what your daughter’s pump does to the class (No, it’s not a cell phone!).
It’s the voice that confides to your best friend why sleepovers still make you nervous or the one that tells your son’s friends (again) that juice boxes are medicine in your house, so get some water if you’re thirsty.
The voice that acknowledges this isn’t easy. There are no days off. Heck, there aren’t any hours off and certainly no lunch breaks!
It’s the voice that tells your child – or yourself – you’re doing the best you can to manage a difficult condition.
The voice that says diabetes can’t stop you.
I’d urge you to use that voice. It’s powerful, even if it’s only heard by you. Maybe it’s just inside your head, saying good job today. We did the best we could. Life goes on. With diabetes.