Guest Post: A New Understanding

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Isabella and Caroline  (Photo Credit: Katherine Trimble)

We are excited to have a special guest blogger today! Valerie Ott is a Lifestyle Writer/Editor and  Blogger for East Hudson Living Magazine, Home Made Modern, and About.com. Read on to find out why she decided to write something for us!


Hi! My name is Valerie, and I am honored to be guest-blogging for the Dooley family today. Although I haven’t met the Dooleys personally, I recently wrote an article about friends of theirs—the Rusinoffs—who also have a child with type 1 diabetes. The reason I felt compelled to guest blog for Inspired by Isabella is because I wanted to share my first impression of the disease as someone who is an outsider of the T1D community.

You see, I went into the assignment of writing about Caroline Rusinoff much like any other. I prepared some questions in advance, grabbed my notepad and favorite green pen, and headed to Starbucks to meet Ted Rusinoff, Caroline’s dad. I did not expect to cry during the interview.

Here’s what I knew about T1D before the interview: exactly nothing. Well, I did know that it is a disease that affects children and I had the vague notion that it is not brought on by poor lifestyle choices or unhealthy eating habits. But other than that, I was clueless.

After talking with Ted—who is very well-versed and educated about the disease, of course–I still didn’t have a deep understanding of the physiology of all of it, and thankfully, I don’t have a personal need to know. But as someone who has two daughters, I began to put myself in Ted’s place as he talked, and a vivid picture of what it’s like to be a family that lives with T1D began to form in my mind.

Ted placed his phone on the table between my latte and his coffee and showed me the app that reads data from a continuous blood glucose monitor Caroline wears on her body. Inwardly, I took a breath as I watched the number go up and down. You see, I’m a bit of a control-freak. I instantly imagined how hard it would be to take my eyes off something that was monitoring something as important as my child’s very well-being. “How does he concentrate on anything else?” I wondered, and I marveled at the strength it must take to not become the world’s worst helicopter parent.

When Ted described what things affect blood glucose levels—food, stress, exercise, heat, etc.—I started to imagine my children’s typical days at school. My oldest, for example, was being timed for her mile run in gym class that day; she had a math test, and she had informed me that morning that it was “snack day” at lunch, where kids get to pick something like a cookie or an ice cream bar from the lunch line. She had choir practice and gymnastics that evening, which meant she wouldn’t be getting to bed on time, and we’d need to squeeze homework in sometime…I began to feel the tears well up, and I rudely interrupted Ted. “Wait a minute. How do you deal with the worry?”

Ted’s response was candid. He said, “If you were to meet us on the street, we’d smile and say everything is great…but the everyday struggle with Type 1 Diabetes is real.” And I got it. I really got it. I could imagine how hard it would be to send my child off to school, practice, or a friend’s house, knowing that he or she would likely need to make adjustments and choices on their own. And I imagined how grateful for every day I would feel.

Some mornings I still think about our conversation as I go into our kids’ rooms and wake them up for school. I used to take it for granted that they’d sleep soundly through the night–barring the occasional bad dream or thunderstorm–and that they’d wake up just the same as they were when we put them to bed. I think differently about it now.

Thanks to the Rusinoffs and the Dooleys—two families who are living with T1D and doing their part to educate others about the disease—I have a new understanding and an appreciation for the cause. Just the other day, in fact, a cashier asked me if I’d like to make a donation to a juvenile diabetes fundraiser. Before, I might’ve answered “Not today.” But now that I have that colorful picture in my head of what day-to-day life looks like for parents, not to mention kids living with T1D, I gave a different answer.

-Valerie

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