Joey had a glint in his eye as he zeroed in on the soccer ball. He took a mighty step back and kicked with all his strength. Like a cannonball, something flew across the field, but it was not the ball. A small, black soccer shoe whipped through the air in a perfect arc. The parents chuckled; the kids roared; the coaches shared looks of mingled humor and shock; Joey's hands flew to his head as he raced to retrieve his shoe, a sideways grin on his face.
I have similar stories and memories about my ten-year-old son, Joey. I can picture Joey unnecessarily sliding into a base during a t-ball game, sending dust billowing. I can vividly see him in my arms as a newborn. I have so many funny pictures of him being a goof-ball.
I can also clearly see my son, as a three-year-old sitting in a hospital bed (that seemed to swallow his small frame) with Band-Aids on all his fingers, clutching his favorite stuffed animal. I can hear his small, choked-up voice say to me, "It's not fair, Mommy."
I agreed, "You are right; it's not fair, sweetie." There wasn't much more to say. Like so many diseases, diabetes isn't fair.
Joey was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes on August 7, 2007, almost three months before his fourth birthday. In many small and large ways, our lives have been permanently altered because of his disease and care. He's been forced to grow up a lot.
However, he still remains "Joey." He has been testing his blood sugar on his own for years, now. He's much better at identifying and verbalizing his "low" and "high" feelings. He's quirky. He's empathetic. He's so smart. He's Joey.
Sometimes, he talks about small memories of life before diabetes. Sometimes he mentions a cure happening "someday." But mostly he talks about everyday life as a fourth grader. He plays sports. He is a LEGO nut. He's a great brother, an awesome son, and apparently a fun friend. He's my son, and my greatest hope for my child is the same as every parent's hope. I want him to be happy, healthy, and live a long life. Please help support the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation's quest for a cure. It would improve the quality of life for so many children, including my son.