TEN: Awesome Experiences
July 25, 2015 marks ten years since my daughter was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. In honor of this milestone I’ll be sharing a summer series of posts entitled TEN. From learning experiences, to awesome experiences, and a few things in between, I hope you’ll stay tuned!
No doubt type 1 diabetes carries plenty of frustration. Truth be told, however, it also opens doors to some pretty amazing moments. I’d give anything to take this burden from my daughter. Since I can’t do that, I figure we might as well celebrate the good stuff. In no particular order, here are TEN awesome experiences from our journey with type 1 diabetes:
1) Diabetes Camp: In her day-to-day world, my daughter faces the reality that none of her friends have to count carbs, keep track of insulin doses, and wear medical devices. At diabetes camp, she isn’t the odd man out anymore. Her self-confidence soars when she’s surrounded by other people who also live and understand her journey.
2) Children’s Congress: In 2013, my daughter represented our state at JDRF Children’s Congress. That experience was incredibly empowering. She shared her story with our Senators and Representatives, and learned about the incredible work that goes on behind the scenes when it comes to funding research for type 1 diabetes.
3) FFL: The Children With Diabetes Friends For Life Conference is a renowned conference experience for families and people who are living with type 1 diabetes. It’s held in Florida every July, and we’ve had the opportunity to attend twice. Fathers connect with fathers, mothers with mothers, siblings with siblings…the entire family benefits from the FFL experience.
4) Bionic Pancreas: In the summer of 2014, my daughter had a rare opportunity to participate in a clinical trial where she wore a closed-loop artificial pancreas for 5 days. For the first time in her memory, she was able to experience life without counting carbs or anxiety about blood sugar issues overnight and during exercise. She thoroughly enjoyed the chance to be a part of history in the making, and looks forward to what is in store for the future of diabetes technology.
5) Starting the Pump: Starting the pump revolutionized our journey with type 1 diabetes. It was a game changer in every sense of the word. The diabetes management we’ve been able to achieve since implementing her insulin pump at age three has been consistently within her target range. We couldn’t imagine life without herOneTouch Ping® Glucose Management System!
6) 1st Sleepover: The birthday party sleepover invites started showing up when she was six. For a few years, I was able to work around them, but knew eventually she would push to participate. That time came when she was nine. That first experience wasn’t pretty – highs, lows, poor communication, and everything in between – but we did it. Facing the fear and overcoming the challenges felt amazing…for both of us.
7) Milestones: Beyond the typical childhood milestones like potty training and writing her name; things like the first time she identified low blood sugar, checked her BG, and accurately counted a plate of carbohydrates stand out in my mind. Each milestone is a cause for celebration, and her confidence has blossomed along the way.
8) Diabetes Connections: I can’t count the number of times she’s spotted another insulin pump or CGM while out and about. Each time it happens, she gets excited and we’re reminded that we aren’t alone. Every chance encounter lifts her spirits, and she’s always on the lookout for the next one.
9) Advocacy: She’s done countless TV interviews, and spoken with numerous reporters about type 1 diabetes. She’s gone before the School Board to advocate for the role of School Nurses, and actively participates in her 504 meetings each school year. She corrects misconceptions and slays stereotypes whenever presented with an opportunity. Becoming her own advocate has been an adventure.
10) Normalcy: She’s alive. She’s thriving. She rides bikes with her friends, plays make believe with her sisters, and works hard in school. She tries her parents’ patience, pushes limits, and her bedroom can be a disaster. The truth of the matter is that, if she hadn’t received insulin when she did, she wouldn’t be alive today. Each “normal” moment of the past ten years is an awesome moment when you look at it that way…and I’m thankful for each of them.