It’s not always about type 1 diabetes…

Isabella and Caroline

Isabella and Caroline

“Who’s Caroline?” asked Max. Isa responded in her sassy ‘I know everything and you don’t’ tone, “you don’t remember her, Max??”

I was driving the kids to school and it was the day after Isa and her new best friend forever, Caroline, had the honor of sharing their stories about living with type 1 diabetes during our JDRF One Walk kick-off luncheon. Caroline, an extremely well-spoken and inspiring 11 year-old girl, had the task of introducing Isa to the group after explaining her own journey with type 1.

I’ve heard Caroline and her dad — who I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know (it’s amazing how type 1 drives an immediate bond between parents!) — tell her story several times at similar JDRF events. And yet, I can never get through it without tears in my eyes.

This time was no different. Just as my eyes began welling up and I could feel the tears forming, Caroline introduced Isabella…

“Now I am excited to introduce one of my T1D friends who is a total rock star…she just got back from Washington DC with her mom and dad where they met with some of our country’s leaders and made sure they saw that Type 1 Diabetes affects real people…and in Isa’s case – super cute people!!”

Isa is surprisingly shy and since her mom likes loves the spotlight, Kristina shared Isa’s story, stressing the importance of advocacy, raising awareness and fundraising for a cure. I had the pleasure of holding Isa and trying to keep her away from Kristina — which is much easier said than done!

After lunch, Isa had a great time chasing Caroline around the room, knocking over chairs and playing with the microphone that she was afraid to touch just a few minutes earlier. With Caroline there by her side she was no longer the timid little girl on stage.

It’s funny, but Isa has always gravitated towards older kids. There are many reasons for that, but I sometimes wonder if type 1 diabetes is forcing her to grow up much faster than she should. I just want her to be a kid and not worry about T1D all the time!

I listened as Isa tried to describe her new BFF to her brother, Max, the next day.

“Max, you don’t remember Caroline?? Remember we saw her at that place? That place where we got the balloons?”

She was referring to another JDRF event that we attended a few months ago. I almost interrupted to say that she was the girl with type 1 that spoke about her diabetes….and that she had an OmniPod just like Isa. But, for some reason, I just listened instead.

Isa continued, “Remember, Max? She was the one with her hair in a pony tail?”

“Oh, yeah…I remember her!” Max said with confidence.

I just smiled — thankful that I didn’t interrupt to add my two cents — and pondered this exchange for a minute. Yes, like Isa, Caroline lives with type 1 diabetes. But, Isa won’t let T1D define her and she certainly won’t let it define her friends. To Isa, her new BFF is just an awesome, older girl with a pony tail.

It was an important reminder that sometimes as parents we need to see things from our kids’ perspectives. It’s not always about type 1 diabetes [or whatever else might be on our mind at that moment]. As a parent of a child with type 1 it is often hard to not think about T1D at every waking moment and the range of emotions that come along with it. Even if the thoughts fade away into the background, there is inevitably a medical device with an annoying, yet necessary, alarm screaming from across the room to remind me.

But, that certainly doesn’t mean that Isabella is always thinking about it. The majority of the time, type 1 diabetes is most likely not the #1 thing on Isa’s mind. And that is just fine by me. Like I said, I just want her to be a kid and not worry about T1D all the time.

~Greg

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