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Wake-up Calls

Posted Sep 07 2008 8:04pm
Apologies for not keeping up with my weblog. Thank you to all who have sent me emails asking what I was up to....

Today's news isn't about healthcare statistics or the state of diabetes in developing countries or over-populated urban areas. I am not going to talk about research, trends, healthcare or technology. I rarely do it, but I am going to talk about me.

Six months ago, I lost my mother. The call came in the middle of the night. She died alone as many elderly people do. I wasn't there for her when she went. There is a lot of guilt and general sadness. Which among a whole host of memories made me feel about two feet tall and alone. I wasn't as sure as I usually am about approaching the big blue world without my anchor - my mother. Has the bereavement made my diabetes harder than usual to control? You betcha.

Then, the next call came. My brother's two year old was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. It seemed so unfair to him, to my sister-in-law and mostly my niece, Lily. They had already suffered enough loss along with the rest of our family. I had to digest the news along with them. The permanence of each loss was staggering.

With a few long discussions (I live overseas), I sent them everything I could think of that would be useful, but not too overwhelming. My brother called me to chat about the difficulties, but he was very satisfied with the level of care they were/are receiving and felt supported.

Then something really magical started to happen. I could tell things were going well. Sure it took my niece a few months to adapt to the injections and it took the same amount of overnight wake-ups and restless sleep for my brother and his wife. But now, I can tell they are in a better place. They are both flexible enough to know change will be a part of their daughter's diabetes and smart enough to know they will never get it right all the time. Our conversations are full of hope rather than full of despair. Like parents of all children with illness it takes strength and courage to face up to what may seem insurmountable and sad. I am so proud of them.

Along with my own mother-daughter polaroid there is another. It is Lily and me. Together we are a reflection of two states of being. One is a world in which we look to with uncertainty -- band-aiding our incurable illness with insulin injections. Another is a world where with a cure we stand strong, knowing our uncertainty has faded.

It is a tightrope walk that all of us lead.
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