In the beginning when it was 90% us and 10% Lia in charge of managing her diabetes, we would tell everyone we knew about it. Tell her teachers, of course, and her coaches and the school administrators, the people she carpooled with. Tell her friends, tell their parents. Tell the neighbors to either side of us. We’d tell family and friends near and far, then remind them again and again and again and when we made new friends we’d tell them too. We’d tell strangers. Servers. Folks working behind counters. We’d corner parents at birthday parties, unsuspecting adults who were not brought up to think that swinging around from a trapeze bar could be anything else but fun. We knew differently though, or were starting to know differently, but because we were just starting out and it was just the two of us, we felt so completely inadequate. So we’d share: Lia has diabetes.
That’s usually how we began, or some slight variation of that. Lia has diabetes. And they’d look at you and frown or apologize and we’d go on because we weren’t seeking their pity but their watchfulness. We’d tell them what exactly that meant, to have diabetes, about blood sugar and insulin and carbs. Maybe some mention of her pancreas. We’d tell them of highs and lows, and perhaps, depending on the role they played in Lia’s life, a few dangers to be on the lookout for. No one ever had to use any of the information we shared, at least not on the level of why we were sharing it, to prevent an emergency. Nonetheless, we felt better.
Then one day not long ago we were out backpacking and ran into a gentleman on the trail who worked for a company we recognize locally as being a strong supporter of diabetes. Franca mentioned that Lia has diabetes and immediately regretted it. I did, too, though it was something we’d shared a hundred times before. What we had both realized, then and there, this five years later, was that we are not new to diabetes and the division is not 90/10, but more like 20/80 and Lia is in charge and if she is in charge, it only seems natural that she should determine who knows about her diabetes.
But it is a big deal for a parent to let go, and though the world is kind in that it happens in small increments, there is still that feeling that no one, not even Lia herself, will be as vigilant as her Mom and I. Our hearts though say it’s time we start believing.