Usually when I send this letter asking for your donation to JDRF, to find a cure for Type 1 Diabetes, I find a template from the website and plug in Katie’s name and forward it to you. This is our 7th year walking for JDRF and I thought you all deserve more of my time because you all have given so much, and also so you can understand how Diabetes has affected our lives. You have been the difference each year – donating more and more every year. I am so grateful! So is my family, and so is Katie.
As you may remember, Katie was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes when she was almost 5. When we first began this journey, it was filled with tears and terror. Slowly, we learned to manage, and then function normally. We have always tried to ease Katie’s frustration and fears by reminding her that there are others with much more difficult challenges…that God chose her because she is strong…that we are blessed…that diabetes doesn’t make her different, and that she can continue to do anything that she wants to do.
Inside, my heart breaks! I want so badly for her not to worry about her blood sugar. Did she remember to take her insulin? Is her nausea or headaches caused by a high or low blood sugar? I want her to be carefree like other children. I don’t share this concern with her often because it breaks her heart too. She has spent many days being angry with this disease and wishing it gone. It scares me. Diabetes needs to be respected and treated with patience in order to be managed.
Katie is tough and determined and much stronger than I am. She is very organized and has a plan. She knows her future and it includes her being the best at everything she does. But I want it to NOT include Type 1 diabetes.
To be honest with you, every time I read about studies or research that brings us closer to a cure – I cry. The emotion is so overwhelming to imagine Katie’s life so different and better.
Very few people understand Type 1 Diabetes. They go by what they see on TV – diabetes comes from consuming too much sugar. They think that Katie can change her diet plan or exercise more (she is very active) so she is no longer insulin dependent. These assumptions are incorrect, and are more closely related to Type II Diabetes. She is insulin dependent and must take injections for the rest of her life, no matter what she eats. Type 1 Diabetes means your body no longer makes insulin; it is an autoimmune disease. This fight is not just about the day to day difficulties (testing at least 4 times a day, insulin pump site changes 3 to 4 times a week, remembering to take insulin every time you eat, blood draws every 3 months, 5-6 doctor appointment a year, emergency room visits, testing at school) but it is definitely about Katie’s future. The long-term damage done by Diabetes can be extreme, and that is what we are hoping to avoid by finding a cure.
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