For World Diabetes Day 2009, the first I’ve been aware of despite having T1 since 2004, I wanted to do something a little bit different than usual on my blog.
Recently I’ve been reading a lot about families and diabetes. So, I asked my sister to write a little bit about how my diagnosis affected her. Yes, diabetes made a HUGE change in my life, nearly everything changed. But, the changes weren’t limited to me.
To be honest, I’ve never had any real in depth conversation with my sister about my diabetes. As far as I know she knows almost nothing about insulin, carb counting, endocrinologists, blood sugar ranges…and everything else that goes along with diabetes. In fact, I know she knows nothing about endocrinologists because just the other day she asked me what an endocrinologist was when I was talking about mine. Just because she knows nothing about my daily “maintenance,” doesn’t mean diabetes hasn’t affected her life too. Since my sister and I haven’t had much conversation about diabetes other than our family’s view on modern medicine, what she had to say was just as much news to me as it is to you.
Growing up in a family where modern medicine is considered evil, Chinese herbologists and doctors who think that a little vodka would do the body good were common place. My sister and I grew up in an unsupportive home so my sister was my support and rock when things got hard; being the youngest, I didn’t feel like I could do that for her. The year after Ashley graduated, we went on a trip with 92 other people and at least 20 of them got a terrible flu; Ashley got sick and so we all just chalked it up to the flu. By the end of the trip, most everyone but Ashley was fully functional and healthy; when we got back home, she didn’t get any better. After a couple days of eating Jello and drinking ginger ale, she wouldn’t wake up and no one knew what to do or what it was. That was probably one of the scariest moments of my life because I didn’t know if she was ever going to wake up; the day and a half that she was in the coma was the longest day and a half I have ever experienced.
She came home, after about 3 days at the hospital, to a home that thought that her diabetes was all her fault and that the disease didn’t need medical attention; my support system was breaking and I still couldn’t help. It took almost 4 years for her to see that our mom was never going to accept the diabetes or support my sister in the way that she needed it. If anything changed between us because of diabetes, it was probably that my sister and I grew a little closer and started communicating better with each other. We both know that my mother will never see modern medicine as anything other than pure evil in most cases but I feel like realizing that made for a more civil relationship between my mother and us.
As much as diabetes is something that I have to deal with and manage on my own, it affected my family too. Even my parents, who have been less than supportive over the years, were affected by my diagnosis. (More on my father is to come in the next week or so)
Today is my “first” World Diabetes Day, really my fifth, but we’ll call it my first. It’s sad that there are so many diabetics in the world today. The sheer number of diabetics today warrants worldwide attention. My sister may know near to nothing about diabetes, but it’s touched her. We always look at the number of diabetics, which is astronomical, diabetes has affected more than that number of people…it’s affected their family’s as well. The more diabetes is “seen” in the world, the more that will have to be done about diabetes. It’s not just diabetics that need a cure, their families need the cure too.