My mother made the mistake of telling her precious three year old, me, that the baby inside her tummy was my baby. So needless to say my sister’s life was from the start plagued with the double trouble of two mommies. But, please don’t feel sorry for her. She was never the one to bow down to any person or authority if it wasn’t her choice. This is one reason her big sister wasn’t too devastated to hear that her pancreas had gone into early retirement. I watched my sister, the very one whom my mom and three nurses would have to chase around the doctor’s office and lay on top of just to give her a shot, faithfully and without hesitation shoot herself up with insulin multiple times a day. She didn’t let diabetes define her but allowed it become part of her definition, along with a multitude of other descriptions.
Another reason this diagnosis wasn’t life shattering was her big sister was completely naïve about what diabetes was. If you had asked me before this time about diabetes it would have evoked images of Home Town Buffet and over eaters anonymous, not the vivacious and athletic sister, I have. I couldn’t wrap my brain around the idea that my sister was a diabetic now, when for the last 18 years she was fine and healthy and was still all those things. I believe we were all in denial for sometime. I can say for certain, though, I didn’t doubt any longer the first time I was sitting in the ER with a ghost colored sister because her battery pancreas was failing to do its job.
It’s in those moments when I feel helpless and hate genetics. But it also in those moments when I see, again, the very confident and independent sister who never let me mother her. She can, even in those low/high sugar moments, direct her own care as she instructs the ER physicians on how to treat her. And in our experience that is a good thing as most of the ER physicians we’ve had need that expertise.
I think my family and I still struggle with the “idea” of diabetes. We don’t know everything about diabetes and what we do know we learn from TV doctors and other very “reliable sources”. And that for me is the biggest challenge, not fully understanding. I work in a doctor’s office and I know that when I see a diabetic patient with missing pieces, I worry. When we go to boot camp and she has to stop to drink juice, I worry. I am always going to worry about her, diabetes or not. I also have trust in my confident, independent, and very decided sister do handle the care of this life she has been given, diabetes or not.