I am a pretty talkative girl and have been called “Chatty Patty” since I was a kid. Upon my son’s diagnosis of type 1 diabetes—I talked about it—but didn’t really open it all up when asked “How’s your son doing?” My go to response in those early days—always –“doing good, one day at a time-Hey is that a new blouse?” I felt weird really giving the truth …how do you say “this is scary, I am in fear all day every day?” You just—don’t.
Three months after diagnosis I was asked to a Christmas brunch at a house of one of Frankie’s school buddies. We were at the ‘getting to know the friend’s parent stage’ and I went—a fun break with a nice group of ladies. I ended up crying into my coffee and cute Christmas mug. I don’t know what it was—the sheer kindness of this Mom asking me how Frankie was feeling—I just lost it. I spilled three months of pent up guts, and she just listened. I left that party and called my husband to inform him that Frankie will not be invited to anything with this family because his Mom (me!) was a crying disaster–and now has to ice down her eyes before heading off to work.
That is not what happened. This Mom called me. I saw the name on the caller ID and about fainted. Do I answer? I was embarrassed. Did I ruin her party? Of course I did! I was a big Holiday downer! I answered and received one of the greatest blessings a Mom can get-understanding.
That was just about 4 years ago and I look back on that call as one of the turning points in this life with diabetes. I spilled my inner fears and cried my eyeballs red but the world did not stop spinning, the sun rose and set, and I was not un-friended on facebook. I learned that it is okay to lose it sometimes. I made a friend who has cried and rejoiced with me on this roller coaster of life with diabetes.
I am blessed. Many in the diabetes community do not have this kind of back up.This Mom has learned diabetes so Frankie can do sleepovers at her house, go to events when I can’t be there, and has become our emergency contact. She gets up in the middle of the night when Frankie stays over and checks his blood sugar. She learned how to give shots, change his pump site, what the warning signs are of an emergency, and she makes an awesome amaretto sour! I don’t thank her enough. I don’t call her enough. I am not friend enough-but she still stands by me because she understands sometimes diabetes gets in the way of all those things.
Frankie, when a high or low blood sugar was upon him, has not been the kindest of friends to his buddy-and his friend has stuck by him. These boys are navigating the roller coaster of diabetes too. The ups and downs, the mood swings, the stop and test, inject, eat, rest, and wait of type 1 diabetes can be hard on friendships. Watching these two –I’ve learned a lot about what friendship is about. Celebrating the good times, standing by during the hard times, and giving some space when it’s needed.
Four years into this life—we are still rookies. We still have a lot to face in this game of diabetes-puberty, teenage years, learning to drive, getting a job, college, and adulthood. I don’t know if you ever move past the rookie stage-if you can ever be a pro at this disease because each transition is another challenge. This I know- friendships- are the grand slams, the winning basket, and the trophy.