Two years ago, when my son had just been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, a work colleague told me about the mum of a student where I teach. My colleague told me that she was in the school at that moment and walked me over to where she would be. I had to stop for a moment: I felt really overwhelmed, was nervous about meeting her, worried that I wouldn’t know what to say and felt scared about being emotional, especially as I was at my work!
I’d never taught this student or her siblings and had never come across this mum, yet, from when I first met her, we shared a bond: a child with Type 1 diabetes. She was much more experienced than me, as her child had been diagnosed several years before. As we sat in the school yard, she took my hand and told me it would get better and that I would survive!
Luckily, I was wearing large sunglasses and had my back to the yard as I lost control and had a snot-filled, wobbly-chinned cry which lasted several minutes. Who knows what she could really understand of my Scottish warble but she understood enough to know that I needed this connection. This lovely lady was the only other mum of a child with Type 1 diabetes that I had met and she totally got me without even knowing me. I so needed for someone who had shared a similar experience to give me this positive message. I also really needed someone to ask how I was, as my total focus in the previous few weeks was learning all I could about Type 1 diabetes and helping my son manage it.
Nowadays, we catch up on the side of sporting fields on random occasions, as my eldest son plays sport in the same team as another of her children. We laugh and giggle, rant and rave and do not stop talking for the entire time we are together. We have more in common with each other than children with diabetes.
I hadn’t seen her for a good few months, until today. I bumped into her in the school yard, approximately two years since we first met and in almost the exact same spot. We gave each other the biggest hug and we swapped stories about our children. I was able to tell her about the crazy night we had just had with levels of 24 at bedtime and the hourly checks we did, looking for ketones and giving extra shots of insulin to bring levels down. There was no need for explanations about what it all meant. She put her hand on my arm and said, “Look at you! You are doing a great job and surviving!”.
She reminded me of that first conversation two years before and I realised how far I’d come. It was good to take a moment and reflect on those two years. I’d lived through many crazy nights, held down and even enjoyed my job, done my best to keep the rest of the family happy and importantly, my son is thriving. I love my three sons and husband but they definitely deal with their emotions differently from me.
Online, thanks to the Diabetes Online Community, I have met an amazing bunch of mums from around the world and we often joke about meeting up one day. Knowing what I have learnt about of few of these fabulous ladies, I know we’d have a fun time together. I have also made connections online with some great bloggers (male and female, young and young at heart) and people on Twitter. Writing this blog helps me process my reality. It is my reality and I’m acutely aware that it’s about me and how I deal with being the parent of a teenager with diabetes. It feels a bit like I’m naval gazing at times but, hey, it works!
I live in rural Australia, in a beautiful coastal area, far from any big cities. We are supported by an amazing Diabetes Educator, have a great paediatrician and access to a whole team of people. My friends are wonderful and have really taken the time to understand Type 1 diabetes. In my day to day life, I have few conversations about diabetes and very little to do with people who have connections to diabetes. That doesn’t reflect how much time I spend thinking about it so this is my outlet.
My connection to this other mum is important to me. She remains, to this day, the only other mum of a child with diabetes that I really know. She has mentored me, albeit in a random and often hysterical way. I feel honoured that she has taken the time to do that and hope that maybe one day in the future, I can do the same for another mum.