On April 15, 2010, our family’s definition of normal changed. At the tender age of 11, Hannah was admitted to the hospital thinking she had a bad virus. But instead, she was told that she had developed a chronic illness, Type 1 Diabetes. It was difficult to explain to her that her tiny body had attacked itself and if left untreated any longer, would lead to a coma and death. We watched our little girl lay in a hospital bed getting poked and prodded, and we couldn’t find the words to explain to her gently that something about her was broken, something irreplaceable.
We were scared and wanted to go back to the way things were. We wanted it to be “normal” again. We had lots of questions. Why us? Why now? We now realize those questions couldn’t be answered. And as hard as it was, we accepted that there was nothing we could do to change this new normal. This decision meant that we had to accept pricking fingers at least 10 times a day to check blood sugar levels and learning to give precise amounts of insulin in attempt to keep Hannah in a proper range. But it also meant we had to accept that any small mistake could result in seizures, a coma or even death. It meant accepting that while we all worked hard on Hannah’s team, her own worst enemy was inside of herself.
As much as Hannah tries not to, she spends a good portion of her day thinking about Type 1 Diabetes. It is the first thing she has to think about when she wakes in the morning and the very last thing she has to think of when she tries to go to sleep at night. It is a constant uphill battle and balancing act. Type 1 management is literally trying to achieve perfection in an imperfect world. A lot of the trials with diabetes happens behind closed home doors. No one sees the lack of sleep because of having to wake up multiple times in the night to treat high and low glucose levels. No one sees our patience wearing low with diabetes: the endless fights with insurance companies denying our medicine and supplies, or the amount of times diabetes symptoms have been debilitating. No one sees that stress levels are extremely high: Hannah is about to be our first child to go away to college, will she be alright? It breaks our hearts daily to know that one of Hannah’s last thoughts after a long hard day is and will always be, will I die tonight? All we want for our child is peace and happiness.
We are not the same family we once were. It’s hard to imagine a life with minimal worries, fears, and injections. Being a Type 1 family is challenging and ever-changing. And it will be a truly remarkable day when we make the final change: from a Type 1 family to a Type None family.
-Charles & Rebecca Veigle
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