Monday, February 15, 2010

How little did I know...

31 years old. That's how old I was when Adele was born. With a normal pregnancy and no history of Type 1 Diabetes in our families and healthy living habits we saw no reasons whatsoever to worry that Adele would not always be the healthy bouncing baby girl that she was the day she was born. My only knowledge of Diabetes was very general (and full of misconceptions). I knew that it had something to do with sugar (ie not being able to eat any?) and injecting insulin in certain cases. I had a childhood friend's brother who was diagnosed at around 8 years old, but the whole disease and it's treatment was very vague to me.

That all changed on October 31st, 2002. No known family history of Diabetes (either Type 1 or Type 2) wasn't enough to stop what was happening. Adele's immune system started attacking and destroying the cells in her pancreas that produce insulin. There was nothing anyone could do to stop it. Type 1 Diabetes did not care if we had "healthy living habits" including regular exercise, that we didn't smoke or ate a "healthy" diet. It didn't care if we were in better condition physically than most North Americans. Adele was diagnosed as a baby at 2.5 years old. I know Type 1 gamers who were diagnosed younger, others diagnosed as pre-teens, teens as well as adults. No one is immune to Type 1 Diabetes. It can hit anyone at any time no matter how healthy, fit and thin you are.

One thing that I have learned since we were forced into playing this Type 1 game is that there are lots of diseases, some curable, some chronic, some fatal that normal people get diagnosed with each and every single day. These people are not different from you and I. Like these diseases, Type 1 Diabetes doesn't only happen to "other people".

For the longest time I was ashamed to tell people that Adele had Type 1 Diabetes. The many Diabetes misconceptions that had been carved in my head affected how I perceived others would judge us and Adele in regards to her Diabetes. I worried about what others would think. I felt like I had flawed her since one of my auto-immunity genes was certainly unknowingly passed onto her and quite possibly played a role in her getting Type 1 Diabetes. I was afraid that she would be ridiculed or excluded because of her condition. I was afraid that she would be judged given the stigma that people get Diabetes because they ate too much sugar and didn't exercise enough. I felt stupid not telling people who didn't already know, but I also felt stupid simply adding "by the way, Adele has Type 1 Diabetes" during an unrelated conversation.

It took some time, but these feelings eventually started to go away. As Type 1 gamers, it is our duty to create Type 1 awareness and education. Getting involved is part of the healing process. So don't just sit there, get out there and tell someone about Type 1 Diabetes !

Oh yeah, in case you've been asleep for the past while, the 2010 winter Olympic games are happening in Vancouver. It's the first time that Adele has an interest in the games and actually asks to watch it with me. Go Canada !!!


Meri said...

We were never embarrassed to tell anyone after our first diagnosis. He was a baby for goodness sakes. A totally fluke we thought. But when my second was diagnosed. People judged. And it hurt. And I probably didn't talk about it on purpose. But now that I have can't talk about my family, without talking about diabetes. It is a progression for sure. It is my job to make sure that everyone I know is educated about this "thing." I want to be open, because I want my children to be open about it too.

And horray for the olympics! Family fun!

Anonymous said...

And now you are so proud - proud of how she handles this adversity and perseveres. Thank you for being among the voices that speak out and educate.

phonelady said...

No matter what you will always find that one person who does judge or who does make stupid comments about diabetes and I dont like to broadcast the fact but if someone is kind enough to ask then i educate , i dont find that it is embarassing to talk about it as it is to hear such blatant misconceptions . Kuddos to you for raising an awesome daughter and being awesome parents .

LaLa said...

Go Canada!
And USA! :-)

I know just what you are saying about feeling judged. I sometimes find myself just saying an autoimmune disease to avoid the look I get when I say diabetes.

I need to work on the education part when I am out and about.