April 28, 2014
Through Diabetes networking, I’ve been introduced to Dr. Stephen Ponder. He’s a leading Type One Diabetes expert, Endocrinologist, and a 49-year T1D survivor! I follow him on Facebook and through his website “The Power Within”. I enjoy the educational pieces he shares, and I enjoy seeing pictures of the oh-so-photogenic Rango! I have learned so much about refining and perfecting my boys’ care. I truly respect what he has to say as he shares research, empirical data and personal experience. And, it works for him. I think his Hemoglobin A1C is better than mine, and I have functioning beta cells!
Dr. Ponder is the Medical Director of the Texas Lions Camp for Diabetes. This weekend, I was fortunate enough to attend the Advanced Diabetes Seminar with my mother, mother-in-law and my twin T1D sons. My tailbone could’ve done without the stress of traveling, but I digress.
In his opening lecture, Kickin’ D’s Butt, Dr. Ponder talked about “Unleashing the Power Within”. It resonated with me. He spoke of letting go of certain negative emotions and embracing and cultivating others that will unleash the power within oneself to deal more effectively with this disease. Whether a parent caring for a child with Type One Diabetes or as a T1D patient, one needs to unleash the power within to Kick D’s Butt!
Work to Let Go of… Embrace/Cultivate….
- Judging Acceptance
- Feeling Defective/Broke Normalcy
- Shame Openness
- Fearing the Future Enjoying the Moment
- Isolation Teamwork
- Pity Empowering/Supporting
- Insecurity/Denial Self-Confidence
As most know, I wrote a book about my experience coping with the 2012 dual-diagnoses of my twin sons with Type One Diabetes, Mommy Can't Fix It . As Dr. Ponder lectured, I realized that I have Unleashed the Power Within. The light bulb flickered on. Without using his words or terminology precisely, my book details my journey on the road to coping and unleashing the power within.
I was fortunate enough to give Dr. Ponder a copy of my book, and he seemed genuinely proud to receive it.
Work to Let Go of….
When Aiden was diagnosed in February of 2012, I was overcome with confusing and negative emotions. I feared for his future, I felt isolated and I felt (and was) pretty pitiful. I was catapulted into a foreign community with no knowledge or invitation.
“I lost all faith in my God, and his religion, too.
I told the angels they could sing their song to someone new.
I lost all trust in my friends.
I watched my heart turn to stone.
I thought that I was left to walk this wicked world alone…”
Fearing the Future: The minute Aiden’s T1D diagnosis was confirmed, all I could think about was how immediately his life span was shortened. At any given time, with mismanagement, he could be taken from me. The idea of burying my child (regardless of age) because of this craptastic disease was enough to make me puke!
Isolation: Besides my husband, I felt completely alone after Aiden’s diagnosis. Plenty of family and friends offered sympathy, but nobody could completely understand how I felt. There was nobody to bounce my feelings off of and know they understood. Nobody was available for questions (outside of the Endocrinology clinic). And, until people were trained, there was nobody to provide any respite so my husband and I could nurture our relationship. Even then, time away was filled with trepidation and worry. It was a dark and lonely time. There wasn’t a ME to talk to ME.
When Asa was diagnosed five months later, I regressed in the progress I’d made emotionally. I had to mourn all over again…for another child.
With time, I began to Embrace and Cultivate the Power Within for my boys. I had to dust myself off. I had to suck my gut in. I had to foster and embrace my resiliency for the sake of my boys. Life had knocked me down before, and I got back up and fought back. I was knocked down and kicked again before I could get up, but I got back up..and the fight began. Resilience.
“Tonight I dust myself off. Tonight I suck my gut in.
I’ll face the night and I’ll pretend I’ve got something to believe in…”
Acceptance: Type One Diabetes was in the genes. I knew this when I married Jerry. I knew it when we had children. Hoped to dodge that bullet, but no such luck. I accepted this disease and thanked my lucky stars it wasn’t much worse. Diabetes sucks. It requires diligence every day, every meal, every minute, but it’s doable. Diabetes is a formidable foe, but my boys can live relatively normal lives. I still get to watch them grow and learn. I can hug them. I can hear them laugh and I can giggle at Asa’s silly jokes. They can succeed in life.
Openness: Being a semi-private person, this was a harder thing for me. I fear being viewed as weak. I put myself out there to write the book and reveal very difficult, hard, dark and private emotions. Not all of my emotions were logical or nice, but they were what they were. But, I did it in the name of sharing our story, spreading awareness and helping others. My purpose was to be the ME that I didn’t have so that the next mother who is unwillingly catapulted into this disease can feel a little less isolated and a little more “normal”.
In addition, I'll answer questions and talk to anyone who will listen. I like to educate to reduce bias and ignorance. I like to spread awareness so that more money can be raised for research. I have had to step outside my comfort zone and be more open with family, friends, co-workers and complete strangers.
Teamwork: Where would my life be without Jerry? Our moms? I don’t even want to imagine. As I touched on in “Mommy Can’t Fix It”, I am so blessed to have an intelligent partner who is willing to learn about this disease and take on an uncomfortable role. He’s hot, too, so that really helps! He’s fantastic. We’re a team in this. I’m the Pilot; he’s the Co-Pilot. We don’t do everything precisely the same, but there is more than one way to skin a cat. We learn from each other. We teach the boys. Together, we attempt to Kick D’s Butt!
Empowering/Supporting: Two of the single-most important moves I took to unleash my power within was to join the Type One Family Network (TOFN) on Facebook and participate in the JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes. TOFN is a network of other local families dealing with Type One Diabetes either themselves, with their children, or both. I was able to read posts about how people felt. I saw questions asked and answered that I had never thought of. I was able to network with people who “got it”. Suddenly I wasn't alone. I was able to exhale.
Further, joining the JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes was a great way for me to feel like I was having fun with my boys, networking with other families, and doing something to help those who are dedicated to finding a cure for Type One Diabetes. I felt if I couldn’t fix it myself, I’d help those who could. There was certainly a learning curve as fundraising and asking people for help and money were foreign concepts to me. I’ve always been very independent.
In two years time, our team has grown and now I serve as a JDRF Mentor for new families. We’re participating again this year in the JDRF One Walk. THE AA TEAM hopes to do as well or better than last year!
Self-Confidence: I like to think I’m a sorta smart gal. I know my husband has gray matter between the ears. My boys are wicked smart. Diabetes sucks, but we got this. I seek information. I want to know more, do better, live stronger. My goal is to keep my boys healthy and strong until they have to take the reins in managing their own disease. If I know and do well, I can teach them the same and they can stay strong and healthy across their long and healthy lives. They have a tough order to fill because I plan to live to be 100 and I have zero intention of burying any of my kids! Diabetes is tough, and sometimes He lands a punch. But, I can do this!
“Though I know I won’t win, I’ll take this one on the chin.
We’ll raise a toast and I’ll pretend I have something to believe in”
Something to Believe In, Bon Jovi
So, if you’re reading this and you haven’t already, do what works for you to Unleash the Power Within. It’s in there. Let it out.
Mommy Pancreas signing off,