"Mel Time"

Some comments about my Fruit Loops & Ice Cream post got me thinking about how truly supportive my parents were & not just my sisters. It was my mom’s goal from the very beginning that I think of myself as a person who happened to have diabetes and not a diabetic. She, especially, was adamant that I learn about my disease in order to be as independent as possible. From the very beginning my parents helped but did not do it all for me. I gave most of my own shots; with some help pinching enough skin in a tricky spot like the upper arm, and from what I recall, I did most of my own urine, then blood sugar testing.

My dad often helped me get my bedtime snack: just about always nachos (Tostitos with cheese, melted in the microwave) and sugar-free chocolate milk. To this day, that is still comfort food to me. Much of my childhood and even into my teens my bedtime snack was a ritual never to be missed. During that time I was also having a problem of dropping low in the middle of the night and had quite of few hypoglycemic seizures as well. Glucagon to bring me back and Phenergan suppositories to help with the vomiting that always followed, were staples in our house. All administered by my parents. How scary it must have been to have to give a shot to your convulsing kid, wait for her to awake groggy and disoriented, and asking “did I have another one?” Then try to get her to drink some regular pop or eat something as she’s asking for something, anything to throw up in. They did it. Sometimes we had to go the ER for an IV if I couldn’t keep anything down and my blood sugar wasn’t coming up. They did all this and yet somehow kept their calm, didn’t let me know just how scary or awful it was, and let me feel like it wasn’t such a big deal.

My parents were my biggest fans and supporters in the annual Bike-A-Thon to raise money for the diabetes youth group run by the team at my doctors’ office. Dad borrowed a truck, the kind with the lift on the back, from his work each year and gave all us kids rides which was always a hit. Today they are still among my biggest supporters in the annual ADA walk. They tried to treat me the same as my sisters, but isn’t that nearly impossible when I had a chronic illness such as diabetes? At Halloween I would go trick-or-treating with all the other kids then turn in my candy to my mom in exchange for a toy or later a jean jacket I just had to have. At Easter I usually got a toy or something too; after we figured out that the sugar-free candy caused stomach problems. Not such a bad deal.

Aside from a strong aversion to actually writing down my blood sugars, one which I still have, by the time I graduated from high school I was an independent, comparatively responsible 18 year old heading off to college 10 hours away from home. That is when my diabetes control became my sole responsibility & I started screwing it all up. I don’t want to reminisce about the self-destructive path I was on for quite some time (at least not now). I am finding strength in remembering the sacrifices my parents made for me, the knowledge to care for myself and my disease that the bestowed in me, and all the love and support they gave and still give to this day. I am drawing on that strength and thinking I CAN DO THIS. I really can find a way to live in harmony with diabetes and be happy and healthy.

As with most things, I will do it in my own slow, sweet, “Mel Time” as my mom calls it.


art-sweet said...

Mel -

This is definitely a RWYCC (Read Where You Can Cry) post... I can't imagine how hard it must be to balance love, support, and independence as the parent of a kid with diabetes. So tell your parents that a random internet friend is very proud of them.


Scott K. Johnson said...

Hey Melissa,

Your post touched me in a couple of different ways.

For one, as those of us that grow up with D can attest to, we ALL go through self destructive periods. I think it's actually an important piece of the acceptance puzzle.

And it also helps us a great deal to come to terms with the fact that we are only hurting ourselves in the long run - which starts the process of internalizing our self care, rather than doing it just because we are supposed to. So, don't feel bad for the time you spent there. It's part of the process.

The second thing that touched me was the "I CAN DO THIS!!" message. That is a message that I use myself often. It empowers me to rise to the challenges that we face. It makes me feel strong. It makes me feel like I will not let diabetes crush me, but rather I will pound it into submission with my relentless dedication to myself, and finally, it helps me know that I will never give in to it.

Because I (WE) CAN DO THIS!

Best wishes!

Shannon said...

Everything you described your parents did for you, I do for Brendon, right up to trading Halloween candy in for a toy.

So this post gives me great hope that all I am trying to do for him will make a difference for the better when he's an adult.

I think most 18 yr olds go on a self destructive phase when they're "set free" whether they have diabetes or not. For me, when I was a Freshman in college, I went crazy with partying, drinking, carousing, etc. Then I calmed down and became a responsible 21 yr old and once again became boring and predictable (which compared with the alternative can be a good thing).

Like you said, it's all about finding harmony with the limitations diabetes sets on you and the desire to break out and live life.