October 8, 2007 - October 8, 2010
Today marks the third anniversary of Jack's diabetes diagnosis. In our family, we call this D day.
I'm feeling a jumble of emotions. Sad that he has this disease. Mad that he has this disease. Yet, accepting of this disease. Wistful as I clearly remember the days when diabetes wasn't a part of our lives. Grateful for the insulin that allows Jack to live. Glad and relieved that diabetes hasn't caused any complications yet. Thankful that I get to hug him, watch him grow, celebrate his birthdays, help him with homework, watch him swim and play tennis, and pick up his dirty laundry off the floor.
I'm recalling memories from October 8, 2007 and realizing how far we've come.
As parents, we always want to make things better for our kids. I can't make this better for Jack. I can't wave a magic wand and make diabetes disappear, but I can look on the bright side.
Besides, I need to look on the bright side, because if I don't, I'll cry. I've been holding back tears all day. Crying can be cathartic, I know, but I don't want to go there.
Rather, I want to look at all the good that's come from Jack's diagnosis. Why dwell on the downside?
The positives are many.
We've seen our son soar. We would have been proud of Jack no matter what, but seeing the way he has accepted and handled his diabetes makes our hearts swell with more pride than we thought possible.
As his parents, Gregg and I deal with the stress of the numbers of diabetes. The numbers, they represent highs and lows that we must treat. For Jack, they represent physical symptoms that he must endure. What we find so remarkable is that he endures them with few complaints. He deals with whatever comes his way. He never ceases to amaze us.
I think the status update I wrote on my Facebook profile sums it up: "Heidi...is celebrating my incredible, real-life super hero Jack. He was diagnosed with diabetes three years ago today, and he has shown more bravery, more strength and more determination than Superman, Spiderman and Batman combined."
Through diabetes, we've made wonderful friends. We would have missed out on so many rewarding friendships had Jack never been diagnosed.
We've grown closer as a family. We've realized that we can handle anything that comes our way. We've learned not to take good health and good times for granted.
We've been the beneficiaries of tremendous support when we've participated in the JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes.
As Jack would tell you, we've been able to snag a Guest Assistance Card at both Sea World and Disneyland, and those cards rock! We've been able to meet Bret Michaels, which was a thrill. (I'll save that story for another blog post.)
Diabetes has infused me with passion and a greater purpose. It's turned me into an advocate and a mentor, not to mention a fundraiser and a philanthropist. It's reinvigorated my writing. It's shown me a strength I never knew I had.
It's given Jack strength, too. It's influenced his sense of self. He knows he's capable of doing anything, if he works hard and focuses. He knows he can overcome obstacles. He knows that we believe in him, and thus he believes in himself. He knows he is not defined by one aspect of his life.
It's taught all three of our kids that not only is it okay to be different, but that we should recognize and appreciate difference. They've learned that everyone has issues and challenges and that we all need to have respect and understanding for one another. They now recognize that life isn't always fair.
Madeline and Max not only know that sometimes they must put another's needs before their own, but they actually do it. That's not easy when you're a little kid.
As we venture into our fourth year, we are at a new level of acceptance with diabetes. What once devastated us, now makes us stronger. Where once we could only see the bad, we can now see the good as well.
We continue to long for a cure, but we move forward with hope.