Love and Life

pancreas heartWhile the kids eat dinner I sort through the pile of papers they bring home from preschool each day. Sheet after sheet of drawings, letters, numbers…indicators of their expanding knowledge and growing imaginations.

An intricately drawn image of Batman taking a nap while Daniel Tiger builds a snowman. And that large green square? That’s their recycle bin, duh.

A rainbow…minus brown because, well, “that’s an icky color.”

And a shiny red pancreas…no question to whom it belongs, the letters I-S-A staring up at me from the paper.

“Hey, Isa, did you draw this pancreas?”

“What pancreas?”

“This red one…with your name on it.”

“That’s not a pancreas…that’s a heart, mom.” (Insert frowny 4-year-old face)

I stared at the drawing that just a minute before I was sure was an exact replica of the I Heart Guts pancreas pillow we’d given Isabella a year ago.

I stared at the drawing that I assumed was my daughter’s way of illustrating a dream she has. Just as Mia dreams of sunny days after the rain, and Max of saving the earth one less landfill and bad guy at a time, Isa dreams of a pancreas that would just do its darn job already.

I stared at the drawing and realized that my interpretation of what Isabella had drawn wasn’t necessarily her dream…but mine. My interpretation was what I assume she spends her time thinking about: life without this disease. Life without needles and finger pricks. Life without carb counting and unpredictable highs and dangerous lows. These are the things I dream about…

But that isn’t what SHE dreams about. This heart…red and emblazoned with I-S-A…this is the organ that matters most to my daughter right now. A symbol of love and, most importantly, LIFE.

While I might secretly wish that Isabella understood how different her life would be without T1D, it’s days like this that I’m reminded that she is not defined by this disease. I’m reminded that she is allowed to have dreams filled with Sophia the First and cupcakes, without a test strip in sight. Her dreams don’t have to mirror mine. Life for her can, and SHOULD, be about more than her disease. Much more.

And while a teeny piece of me was excited that she’d drawn a pretty great pancreas, another part of me was happy to hear that diabetes isn’t the first thing that pops into her mind each day.  In fact, it’s probably not even the fifteenth thing.

So I say to my little one: You just keep dreaming of giant red hearts because that right there? That is the organ that truly matters most.

Cheers to Changing the World,
Kristina

Monkeys Always Make Things Easier to Explain

Coco ReadingImagine trying to explain Type 1 Diabetes to a 3-year-old. Now imagine trying to explain it to a whole class of 3-year-olds.  Sounds like a challenge, right?  Well, challenge accepted!

For weeks I’ve fielded questions from Isabella’s curious classmates as I checked her blood sugar and gave her insulin shots.  With Isabella starting on her OmniPod pump, I was thrilled that her teacher let me come in and read two books to her class about a new Disney character with T1D: Coco the Monkey. Not only does Coco have diabetes, she also wears a pump…just like our Isa!

The books follow Coco as she begins school and as she prepares to attend Goofy’s birthday bash.  I learned during our book reading  that 3-year-olds have very selective hearing (you’d think I’d be VERY familiar with this already) as the kids yelled out things like “My birthday’s next week, too!” and “I met Pluto this summer!”  Regardless, the kids did great and I loved seeing how proud Isa was to show off her pump to her friends.

If you are looking for a way to “explain” your child’s type 1 diabetes or their insulin pump to young classmates or friends, I highly recommend you check out these books.  Though not available for purchase, you can ask your child’s doctor for copies.  More info about the Disney partnership with Lilly can be found here: http://spoonful.com/type1.

Cheers to Changing the World,
Kristina