Sunday, May 30, 2010

Carrie and Christine

Growing up, we lived down the street from a little girl named Carrie (not her real name). We used to play together, and she would come to all the birthday parties. She also had diabetes. But I was only 6 at the time and it didn't mean a whole lot to me. Just that she couldn't have a lot of sugar, which I thought was a big, fat bummer. But it was never that big of a deal.

In Junior high, I met a girl named Christine (again not her real name). She also had diabetes, but was the exact opposite of everything I had seen with Carrie. She was as non-compliant as they came, and would often eat a chocolate bar and diet Coke for lunch. That is, if she ate lunch at all. She was always passing out at school, but would laugh about it afterward.

Christine's home life was a mess; a Dad (who was also T1), who spent more time at work (in another city, no less) than at home. Four brothers who reveled in making their only sister's life miserable. A Mom who let the kids do whatever they want. Now that I understand a little more about the human psyche, I can understand why Christine was the way she was.

I remember she had a BG meter that was about the size of today's netbooks. Sometimes she would check my sugar, and I can still remember how much those lancets HURT. I also remember loving to go over to her house because they always had a tonne of junk food and free reign on whatever was in the cupboards.

Christine and I had a falling out and lost touch when we were about 14. I never saw her or heard from her again until I was 20.

I was sitting in the holding room on the set of a TV show (I used to extra work in my spare time when I was in Vancouver... most boring job EVER!), when I was approached by someone I didn't know. Until she asked if I was Joanne so-and-so, and then introduced herself as Christine. I would have never recognised her in a million years.

The long and short of it was; she did not look well. Not healthy in the slightest. I wondered (but did not ask) if she ever started taking care of herself. By the looks of things, the answer was no. We spent some time catching up, and then never saw each other again after that day.

When Elise was dx, it was Christine's face that my mind flashed to. The worst of the two diabetes examples I had. It's just in my nature to go to the worst-case scenario. I sometimes still see Christine's face when I look at Elise.

I also wonder what ever became of Carrie. How is she doing? How did she cope, growing up with diabetes? What is her life like today? I'm pretty sure I could track her down if I wanted to... but for some reason, I don't want to.

I have read the blogs of many adult T1 diabetics who were diagnosed as small children, and it is my hope that Elise does as well as any of them. But I get scared. I have a strong-willed child, who lately is wrestling me for control. A lot of the time I don't feel like I'm equipped to handle this. I want her to do well; five years down the road, ten years down the road... for the rest of her life. I just don't want to fail her.

Sometimes the duty of being a parent of a type 1 kid can be overwhelming.


  1. I'm not a parent of a T-1. I didn't grow up as a T-1. But - I've done the parenthood thing and so feel a little qualified to tell you that you're doing a great job with your daughter. Her strong will, although somewhat annoying right now, will serve her well as she grows up. (That same strong will be even more challenging when she's a teen :).) Keep doing your best and she will grow up to be a delightful young lady, just like her mom.

  2. as a parent of a t1 and being a t1 I can tell you that parenting aint easy but they do grow up and they do learn to take care of their selves and if you have done the job well when they are little they remember that and yes my son is 25 an he is well and good and healthy and I would like to think that I played a great deal in that . You will be okay and so will she .

  3. I worry about Matthew, too. I wish there was a manual that told you step-by-step how to transfer responsibility over to your child. But every kid is different.

    My husband has chosen to not really be involved in Matthew's diabetes and I think this is what scares me the most. I want Matthew to have his male role model to really set that example.

    This is tough....

  4. You know what...Elise is strong and independent for a reason. She is going to be an AMAZING adult! And she will thrive. She is smart, and well taught. When someone grows up with so much love, it stays with them. They are better because of it. By the time she is on her own, she will have even better tools to assist her in her good health. No worries friend. You can't control the future, only today...and rock!

  5. I'm with Meri...and having a... ahemmm... spirited child myself it is my hope to harness that spirit and teach Joe how to use it to his advantage. You are doing an amazing job in just acknowledging the difficulty of our task at hand this early in Elise's life. Keep up the awesome work!

  6. That control thing is hard with these little kids! I just try to let Emma choose as many things as she can during the day...stay in the bath longer or get out now, what shirt do you want, etc etc so she feels some level of control in her life and hopefully doesn't mind the things she has no choice in quite as much.

    You do such a great job with Elise and have given her such a good foundation of a secure home life and clearly a great sense of humor! She will do so well!


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