When my son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes just before he turned two, I had a lot of thoughts about his future. Getting pregnant wasn’t among them. But as we shared the news and explained type 1, a few friends said, “At least he won’t end up like that poor girl in Steel Magnolias.”
It’s hard to remember but through all the great dialogue and amazing women in the movie, the center piece of Steel Magnolias, and the impetus of that wonderful “laughter through tears” line, is that the Julie Roberts character dies from complications of type 1 diabetes. “Drink the juice, Shelby” is her mother desperately treating a dangerous low blood sugar.
I love Steel Magnolias. I had a huge crush on Tom Skerrit back in the day (omg, I know) and I cry and laugh every time I watch it. But I know people in the diabetes community who get angry, who won’t ever watch it again.
It is a true story. Robert Harling wrote the play after his sister died in 1985. It can still happen; fortunately, it’s not the story of most women today with T1D who want children. The problem? For the most part, Steel Magnolias is still the only story out there.
This week, as the movie returns to theaters to mark it’s 30 year anniversary, I’m reissuing an episode we first put out when my local community theater performed the play. My guests are all moms who live with type 1: Kerri Sparling, author of Six Until Me & “Balancing Diabetes.” Melissa Lee, Director of Community Relations for Bigfoot Biomedical & Kyrra Richards, founder & Creative Director of Myabetic.
It’s a wonderful round table – they all have strong reactions to the story, but they also have terrific advice for women with diabetes. We get away from Steel Magnolias a lot (cheeseburgers come up for some reason?) and they share real-life pregnancy and T1D stories and experiences from which we can all learn.
Melissa Lee put her finger on it late in our discussion when she pointed out that Shelby had no community. She had no one to truly listen and understand, to say yes and to help her find a way. I hope hearing this round table helps you find your “yes.”
Listen here, at diabetes-connections.com or on any podcast app