Today there is an estimated 3 million Americans living with Type 1 diabetes (T1D)—and almost 30,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. So on October 6th I will be walking in the West Tennessee 2012 Walk to Cure Diabetes to help raise money for JDRF. In 34 years of living with T1D, this is only the second time that I have participated in JDRF’s annual fundraiser. It’s not that I didn’t want to be involved in helping raise money to find a cure…it’s just that diabetes is such an all-encompassing, complex, 24/7/365 disease, I didn’t feel like focusing on it any more than I had to already. Basically, I didn’t want my diabetes to define me.
T1D – The only life sentence that gives you more time for good behavior
But this year, I changed my mind. The fundraising I’m doing is not for me though. Quite frankly, at this point in my life, I would be lost if I no longer needed to pass every single thought I ever have about food, activities, or emotions through my “diabetes filter”. Even though diabetes doesn’t define me, it sure does direct me (constantly) on how to live my life. And I am okay with that. Actually, I am more than okay with living with diabetes. I’m proud of what I have accomplished. Someone once said you need to have a test before you can have a testimony…Little did I know that my test would include countless 1000’s of actual blood sugar finger prick tests!
Who’s Your #1?
This year I choose to walk for all the little children just beginning a lifetime journey with T1D. I am personally inspired by my co-worker’s 2-year old daughter who developed T1D at age 12 months. As a mom of a daughter with special needs, I felt overwhelmed with gut-check emotion as I listened to her dad describe some of the daily responsibilities he and his wife handle in order to take care of their baby girl:
- Acting as her remote artificial pancreas – Can you imagine the stress of monitoring and correcting your child’s blood sugar throughout the day and night? On a “good” night, they only have to check her at 10:30pm…and again at 2:30am. Not just once a week…they do it every single night! Her dad said even while she is laying in bed, barely out of dreamland, she will raise up her tiny arm to let them do a finger stick…
- First line of defense against hypoglycemia – And many nights when they sneak into her room with only a mini headlamp to light the way, they check her BG, and it’s low. At that point, they have to give some frosting and hope she eats it, then start making immediate plans for another BG check a short time later (still in the wee hours of the morning) just to make sure she is alright.
- Managing a restricted diet for a 2-year old – Remember how hard it is to get 2-year old to eat certain foods? Or not eat certain foods? What if her life depended on those choices? Not to mention all of the birthday parties…soccer team snacks…and the hundreds of other times where a little girl has to be told “no”.
That’s a lot of responsibility for two parents to carry.
No one volunteers for a lifetime of living with T1D
Ask anyone about living with insulin-dependent diabetes and they will probably tell you this…having T1D is no fun. In fact, it is definitely a “cross to bear”. Shouldering the daily responsibilities of self-care is a daunting and formidable task. But what if we could shift our perspective? Instead of viewing that often lonely walk of diabetes self-management as a burden, could we instead view this heavy load as an opportunity for true growth? Can living with diabetes…or cancer…or divorce…or financial woes…or unemployment…or any other major life issue for that matter, offer us a bigger gift of salvation than we first recognize?
My diabetes cross
Jesus’ life taught me a couple of big truths. First, as the Son of Man, Jesus exemplified what it takes to live successfully here on earth: acceptance of God’s will and loving those around us no matter what. Did Jesus want to carry that big, heavy cross and then go on to be crucified while bearing the weight and agony of all the sins of the human race from beginning to end of time? No, I don’t think so. But what did Jesus say…“not my will but yours be done.” He humbly accepted the circumstances. And what about the people who loved Jesus and stood by him until the bitter end? His mom, Mary Magdalene and probably John, were all there as Jesus endured that pain. They were there to support him at the cross. Just like he had supported so many others with love and healing in the time leading up to the cross.
Love means compassion
One of my daughter’s favorite sayings is that “love means compassion.” And compassion means that not only do you feel the other person’s pain, you also want to make it better for them. So if we could live like Jesus did when it comes to bearing our cross, it means we would not only accept our own cross without reserve, but we would also look around and see how we could support our neighbors bear the weight of their cross. My cross is your cross…your cross is my cross…because at the end of the day there is only ONE cross. Never forget that although the journey may be long…and the journey may be undeniably hard…when we support each other during the trying times, the journey will become everything. And it’s that journey that leads us to salvation.
I hope we find a cure for T1D soon, so a little 2-year old girl won’t have to deal with this condition her entire lifetime. You can help make a difference by making a donation to JDRF; because anything you give is going to help make the weight of her cross that much lighter.
Thank you for hearing this message with your heart. It is my hope that your burdens…whatever they may be…feel lighter today because of someone’s compassion for you and the compassion you showed to someone else.
Click here to make a donation to this year’s Walk to Cure Diabetes. Thank you for your support!