Our family took its place in the worldwide diabetes community in 2019, when The Architect, then six years old, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Though she is currently the only Type 1 kid in her elementary school, we draw from the experience and support of a vast virtual community and even some friends close by, for which we are exceedingly thankful.
With November being Diabetes Awareness Month (in addition to Thanksgiving — insert your best snarky food comment here, I can take it), I like to use this space to bring a bit of awareness to the cause. Not just for my daughter’s sake, but because there are roughly 2 million Americans living with this largely misunderstood autoimmune disease.
I posted a version of the words that follow on social media on World Diabetes Day (Nov. 14), but share it here, too, in hopes that it will reach a larger audience, because the more awareness we can spread, the better:
Three years into Type 1, where do we stand? 
Well, if I had a second to speak to any family struggling with a new diabetes diagnosis, I would say this: “Everything feels big right now, like life or death. It won’t always be that way. You’ll learn and you’ll grow and you’ll have some bumps along the road but you’ll dust yourself off and come through them. It’s going to be OK.”
So now I don’t necessarily worry that one dose of insulin will kill her (it COULD, but so can riding in an airplane or eating the wrong piece of sushi); I double-check and rely a little on technology and correct if necessary and am overall thankful for this artificial hormone that is keeping my daughter and so many other people alive.
So there’s that.
On the flip side, I still struggle with some forms of denial, like my aversion to seeing diabetes accessories on The Architect’s nightstand. If I’m in her room and there are glucose tablets or the stuff we use to soften the adhesive from her insulin pods sitting there next to her alarm clock, I’ll move them to the basket below because I don’t want it to look like a diabetic sleeps here.
I know that sounds odd and picky. It’s just my little fight against reality, I guess. It certainly makes sense for the glucose tablets to be on the nightstand, because inevitably her low alarm will go off at 1 a.m. and one of us will need to stumble down the hall to her room in the dark and shove one between her teeth, and she will chew it in her sleep. Because this is normal life for us now.
But normal kids don’t have glucose tablets by their beds and I want her to be a normal kid.
Then again, is there any such thing as a normal kid?
Someone on a diabetes page I follow posted a news story recently about a Type 1 kid who went on an extended field trip to a different country and, because of a series of lapses in communication, died from diabetic complications. I don’t know why I read the article. It was like watching a horror movie in slow motion and the person about to get attacked by the knife-wielding psychopath looks exactly like someone you love. Now this teen will never have an adulthood and his family is tangled in a lawsuit and I never want to let my daughter leave the house again.
But the thing about diabetes — and I’m sure other medical parents can relate — is that you can’t dwell there. You can’t pause the horror movie and stare at the screen. You have to turn it off and live your life. 
Horrible things happen to diabetics every day. They also happen to “normal,” healthy people. If we spend our lives in fear of what could happen, we miss so very much of the beauty that’s unfolding before our eyes, and in that way could waste a lifetime.
So our kid is not normal. Neither is anyone’s, if you think about it. We’re thankful that despite this diagnosis, The Architect is thriving and capable of doing a gazillion different things. She is strong and smart and funny and kind.
Every day we choose to be grateful and not fearful, because gratitude is just a better way to handle a diagnosis like this.
So this Thanksgiving, during Diabetes Awareness Month, we are thankful for insulin. For a family and community that loves and supports us. For doctors who take care of us. For technology that gets a little better all the time, helping us to manage. 
We are thankful for life, because as this journey has shown us, it should never be taken for granted.
Abbey Roy is a mom of three girls who make every day an adventure. She writes to maintain her sanity. You can probably reach her at amroy@nncogannett.com, but responses are structured around bedtimes and weekends. 


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