Sometimes you just have to sit with the sadness.
My son has had type 1 diabetes for over three years. It has become part of what we do: an annoying interloper whose demands have to be satisfied at every turn but mainly we muddle along quite nicely.
Recently though, I have felt a real sadness settle over me. I’d been ignoring it. Life is busy so it’s not hard to keep on moving. Three kids, work, we all know some version of the routine.
Holidays are here now and it cannot be outrun any more. Tears have been a secret companion in the last couple of weeks and often for no apparent reason. So over the last few of days, I’ve not run away from how I feel. I’ve cried my tears and sat with my sadness and through that, I seem to have figured out why I feel like I do.
The baby that I had, that I fed, whose nappies I changed and for whom I had dreams and hopes, is turning into a man. I need to grieve that this adulthood which he is entering is not quite the one I had imagined. I know it’s not all doom and gloom and my mission every single day is to make sure that diabetes does not dominate. I didn’t, however, think about how it must be horribly normal to go through the feelings of grief that a parent has at diagnosis at later times too.
Recently lots of things have been changing. It’s all the normal stuff : school exams, learning to drive, moving over to winter sports, going out more with friends, girls, work. My son is amazing and does not hold back on anything, which is exactly how a teenager should be. My job in the background is to figure out how all this can be done and often this can involve emails to our fabulous educator (to adjust insulin doses) or to the not so fabulous school ( to query diabetes provisions for senior exams or try to organise for the DE to talk to staff). I try to be discreet and not in my son’s face. I know he thinks about his diabetes too so I don’t want to add my concerns to any he may have.
As his big brother is heading towards the end of his high school education, we are helping him plan what he may want to do. A deposit for schoolies (a horrid Aussie tradition, in my opinion) has been paid from his savings and university open days will be visited in the upcoming months. This is what has forced my brain to consider the options for my second son, the one with Type 1 diabetes, who will have all these decisions to make next year.
I could vomit at the thought of him taking off to schoolies for a week. The temptations, in all their shapes and forms, are huge there. Then what about uni? We do have a local uni but why shouldn’t he go off and experience the fun and independence of undergrad life: freshers week, juggling a part time job with uni, sleeping in shared accommodation, etc. My mind has been racing ahead in a way that I have until now managed not to do. Taking on one thing at a time has got us through these last three years so I need to stop worrying and live life now. The future will come soon enough.
Now that I know why I am feeling like this, the tears have stopped. I’ve gone back to doing what I did when my son was first diagnosed.
I’ve been walking and thanks to a new family subscription to Apple Music, I have the funkiest playlist which I play at top volume as I pound the streets. These cool sounds and the incessant beat of the tunes of my youth, with a few modern numbers added in by my kids to keep me up to date, do not allow my brain to worry.
The Smiling Mind app on my phone has been used every day and the breathing exercises and focus on mindfulness are really helping me regroup.
Last night, I was feeling a bit low after a successful but tiring camping trip. Connecting with others who understand about diabetes felt like the right thing to do and a pleasant hour was spent with the amazing people on #OzDoc on Twitter (always there on Tuesday evening from 8.30pm, please do come and join in). I’m so glad I did. I needed to be amongst adults who had survived those years and who, despite issues they may have, are living good lives.
I’ve sat with my sadness and I’ve looked it straight in the eye and I’m fine.