I left a comment on a Facebook diabetes group post recently and she replied, “Thank you, Stacey! You always have the positive spin!”
At first, that made me feel good. Then I thought about it. Always positive? Am I the cheerleader of this group? I do try to be optimistic about diabetes management. After all, the parent sets the tone and I don’t want my son walking around in a gloom-and-doom cloud of fear. But T1D is hard. Any type of diabetes is hard. It’s relentless. It’s always there and if you ignore it, it just makes things worse. It’s a giant pain in the ass and it’s important to acknowledge that.
I didn’t always think that way. About three weeks after Benny was diagnosed, we went to visit my parents. I wanted my mom and dad to think everything was still okay. I didn’t want them to worry. So I was going to show them that we were fine. We had it under control. My not-yet-two-year-old didn’t mind 6-8 blood sugar checks and sometimes that many shots a day. It was all good! We were the most fabulous diabetes family!
Of course, that wasn’t true and I burst into tears about 15 minutes after walking into my mom’s house. Because this sucks and we aren’t perfect and if your mom can’t hug you and know the truth, who are you going to tell?!
But… I also don’t want anyone feeling bad for my son. I don’t want you to look at Benny or my family and think, “Oh, that’s so sad. Poor them. Their life sucks.” Because it doesn’t. It’s not exactly the life I expected, but it’s still pretty great.
I don’t want your pity, but I will claim my own sadness and frustration. I can’t pretend everything’s always fine, it often isn’t. And we usually have 5 or 6 things going on that you might not see. That’s okay. You probably do to.
I’ll keep going with the positive spin on Facebook, and elsewhere, hopefully with a nod to how hard this can be. If you deny the frustration and sadness that comes along with a chronic illness, you don’t do yourself any favors. But if you also deny the joy you still have, you’re missing out on so much more.