I've been meaning to write a blog about support for a while now. I've written about how we support each other and how HCPs support us, but sometimes we take for granted the people who are there for us on a daily basis, living with us throughout our diabetes.
After being diagnosed at 16, I've had a rocky ten years. Hiding from and ignoring my diabetes meant that my family had no idea what I was going through....what I was hiding from them. My mum has never had to inject me or test my blood sugars and has only needed to treat two of my hypos. When she asked about my control or my regime, I would avoid her questions and carry on naively hiding. I wouldn't let my family support me because I wouldn't support myself. Having said that, they have always been there for me when I needed them the most.
Twice a year my mum and stepdad would drive me to A&E because I had let meself get to the DKA stage, every six months like clockwork. My mum would sit by my bed and hold my hand as blood gas tests were done, being brave for both of us because I was too exhausted to keep up the charade. She would phone me, bring me books, call work for me and make sure I had everything I needed, until I took over and told her that everything was fine again. For the next six months she could rest and I wouldn't worry her until I couldn't cope, and it would happen again.
My brothers have also been my rocks, like giant leaning posts who would take the strain for me when was too weak and when I would let them help. Now that I have started to accept my diabetes I have begun to let my family support me, and have seen how other families do the same.
From using the online diabetes community I have spoken to some amazing people with diabetes, as well as their families and friends. I regularly read posts from parents who stay up late to see if a correction has worked, trying to decide on a snack which will keep their childs blood glucose at a steady level through the night, worrying about their newly diagnosed child and looking for support and reasurance anywhere they can find it. One lady who I speak to on twitter told me that she would give anything to swap places with her son, and that it breaks her heart when she see's him unwell. I have tears in my eyes sometimes reading her posts and knowing that families are doing anything and everything that they can to find a cure for diabetes.
Today I was speaking with a lady who has type 1 diabetes and we were discussing how parents manage. She said that her mum's attitude has given her a postive outlook on life with diabetes. She told me that her mum would see in her eyes that her blood sugars were dropping, give her two digestives and then she would be off out to play again. This wonderful lady has had diabetes for 48 years, still uses insulin pens and is a mum of two.
I'm struggling to find a word which will describe families who support people with diabetes. Heroes springs to mind.... Dealing with family life, work life, social lives and diabetes life. Selflessly testing blood sugars, adjusting insulin doses, carb counting, teaching, attending appointments and being one step ahead for when we can't be, all the while staying positive and passing on this attitude to us.
I don't know where I would be if it wasn't for my family, and though I felt that I was protecting them from what I was experiencing, I have always known that their support was there. Whether it's from my mum telling me she was proud, or my brothers phoning to say hi when I'd only seen them the day before.... Their subtle ways of showing that they care means the world to me and I couldn't for ask for any more.
A mother's anthem - I am the mother of a diabetic child.