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We had a package arrive last week and Lyla, our middle daughter, wanted to know what it was for. Fletcher – the youngest, 2 years old – is in a research trial to find out what triggers Type 1 Diabetes. He has been in it since he was in the womb and will continue to be in it for the next few years. The package was the latest round of sample jars, collection swabs and surveys that we need to submit to the trial.
As we were explaining this we got to talking about how one day we hope that trials like this lead to a cure for Type 1 Diabetes. We started discussing the other areas doctors are working on such as smart insulin, where instead of repeated blood tests and injections throughout the day a single dose of insulin would keep circulating in the body and turn on when needed.
Hamish, who very rarely mentions anything to do with his Diabetes became very focused on this and whether he could have it now and stop the multiple needles and blood tests he has each day. We explained that it is still in research but perhaps he could consider using a CGM or the pump? But it was one of those days and one of those conversations where nothing was going to solve for what Hamish really wanted – which was to not have Type 1 Diabetes. He sat there silently and then big fat tears started to roll down his face. “I’m ok” he said “Nothing’s wrong”. But we could clearly see the pain he was feeling inside and the weight of what Type 1 Diabetes is to his life now and as he looked forward.
It just didn’t seem fair that at 9 years old, he has to deal with this burden. As a parent, you want to take all of that hurt and worry away from your child but we can’t. So we just hugged him. After a while – and a little bit of food – he was back to his regular happy self and the whole thing just went away. We talked again, told him we thought he was the bravest and strongest boy on the planet (just like a superhero) but even those who are brave and strong need to cry. He nodded and then went back to whatever he was doing before we interrupted him.
That’s the thing with kids, they are amazingly resilient, especially when they are dealing with a life-long and life threatening disease. It’s often us as their parents that ponder, turn over and hold on to those moments where it all goes to pot. We won’t forget those tears even though Hamish has long moved on. They remind us that he has big battles to face and to appreciate that he faces them so regularly with strength and determination. We live each day with a real-life superhero.
Yours in Capes (well, Hamish at least!)
Jen, Brad and Hamish