Type 1 #Diabetes is an interesting beast. Interesting as a Type 1 yourself, but being parent to a Type 1 is a different again. This is a story about an unexpectation that threw me
Types of Friends
Diagnosed as a Type 1 when I was 13 years old, I remember all too well the different types of friends I had growing up.
- Those who largely ignored my diabetes; treating me like “any other boy”
- Those who took time to understand my diabetes
- Those who chose to ostracise me based on my diabetes
I was exceedingly fortunate, the vast majority of my friends fitted into that first category – they largely ignored my diabetes, they understood I had diabetes, but didn’t really take the time to actually understand it. I’m grateful for this – I was “part of the group”.
My family, closer friends, they took the time to understand how to know when I needed help, and would make sure I was ok when I was low (or high). I had more people in my life in this category than others I know … I consider myself lucky in this regard
There was a particular time in my life however, where I was actively treated differently. This was hard. It was less about my diabetes, than boys playing to the “boys being boys” stereotype of finding someone who was different, and actively trying to exploit it. I won’t remark further on this – they’re literally not worth it 🙂
A fourth type of friend
There was one rare group though, exceedingly rare. The person who not only takes the time to understand you, your diabetes, what your limits are. The type who goes out of there way to make sure you’re included, who exposes themselves personally in doing so but does so anyway.
Ed, I hope you read this. I hope you know this is you. I hope you understand what this meant, what it means.
My daughter’s friends
Alana has a lovely group of friends, her school mates too are such lovely girls and boys. They don’t treat her any differently, and more than one understand her diabetes. Not necessarily intimately, but they have taken the time to understand her need to test her sugars, eat food, take some time out when she’s hypo, and when to give her space to rest when her sugars go high.
This makes me so happy
I always knew that there would be times for Alana which would be easier, and some that would be harder. I have watched her friends grow around her, some closer than others, but all supporting, accommodating.
I watch with pride how well she managers her own diabetes – responsible well beyond her years
I expected that there would be times however that would not be so easy, when people would indeed treat her differently or if not differently, just be unkind. I’ve thought how I might approach supporting her through these moments, as a father, but also as a Type 1 diabetic who has lived this same experience.
I had prepared myself for all of these three moments, matching the first three friendship groups I described earlier
Last night, something happened, something I hadn’t prepared myself for.
Last night Alana had a friend over for a sleep over. There was food, there were snacks, there were movies, there was dancing, there was running. Heck, there was even a fashion show at 11:30pm
I was checking with Alana that she had enough insulin for all the food she had eaten (they binged during the movie!)
Alana looks at her friend and said “someone wouldn’t give me any food until I’d had insulin for it”.
Her friend just looked at me, smiled, and said “I’m just watching out for her“
I don’t know I’ve ever heard one of her friends say that.
Saying “ok, thanks girls” was all I could do to hold it toghether.
Something in my eyes
And so, there I was, sitting on the couch, with something stuck in my eyes.
I wasn’t ready for that moment.
But I’m eternally grateful that Alana got to experience it. That she has a friend who, as natural as breathing, went beyond just understand, to show true empathy, and compassion for a friend. What an exceptional soul!
This post was originally authored on this blog, you can also see the corresponding LinkedIn Article here https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/unexpectations-andrew-barnes/