2015 was a bit of a crappy year for us, plenty of personal sadness. We were glad to see the back of it. So we decided that as a family 2016 was going to be all about joy. We were going to do things that made us happy, made us laugh and made us feel like we were embracing life. First cab off the rank was booking a once-in-a-lifetime snowboard trip for Hamish and Brad to Japan. They were going with a few other local families to tackle the slopes of Myoko Kogen. To be fair, Hamish had only snowboarded a grand total of 4 days in his 9 yr old life but he loved it and was excited at the prospect of travelling to such an exotic location.
It all started with a hypo…
The day before the big trip we had set off to the shops to pick up a few last minute items for the boys. Half way into the expedition Hamish had the obligatory hypo, although quite a bad one. Not long after he started complaining of a headache, then it became a bit more intense and our normally stoic little boy started to cry in pain. Cue vomiting and it was all chaos. We weren’t sure what was going on but thought it might have been a migraine or a stomach bug. Hamish was panicked – his much longed for ski trip was in doubt. He looked at us and said “I just don’t want any more bad things to happen to me”.
It was like a slap in the face, a punch in the stomach and a knife in the heart all at once. I just don’t want any more bad things to happen to me.
It was a rare insight into what he must sometimes think about his life with Diabetes. Hamish seems to always take it in his stride, rarely complaining. And we spend so much time trying to take away the focus on what he goes through so it doesn’t feel like a burden or so he doesn’t feel different. What we hadn’t thought of is that maybe sometimes Hamish does feel like it’s a burden and that it does make him feel different…and he hates it.
Up, up and away
The good news is that it was a migraine – if a migraine is good news? We thought it was better than a stomach bug! After a little bit of sleep, it lifted and Hamish was on his way to Japan the next day for what proved to be not a once-in-a-lifetime snowboard trip but a new passion which has now turned into an annual snowboard trip. #diabeteswontstopme
If we could see some sort of learning from this episode it was to stop glossing over everything and allow Hamish to feel the normal emotions of frustration, despair and “poor me”. To acknowledge that his daily life isn’t as simple as his friends and to help him talk about what bothers him. This is sometimes easier said than done given our natural instinct is to try and make the best of everything, but a good cry does help. It reminds us of that scene in the movie Inside Out (on regular rotation in our household!) where Sadness talks to Bing Bong about his heartbreak at losing Riley and he starts to cry. Joy is trying to stop Sadness but afterwards he feels so much better. Joy asks her what she did and Sadness replies “Well, I don’t know. He was sad so I listened…”
So we listened
It would be a lie to say that everything is made better by listening but it does help. It’s good for us to hear when it bothers Hamish so that we can support him when he is down. And it’s good for him to know that we also hate that he has Diabetes but we will always try to do our best and help him wherever we can. We are human and emotions, whether happy or sad, are what makes us ‘us’.
So back to “I don’t want any more bad things to happen to me”. We don’t want any more bad things to happen to Hamish either but the reality of life is that it won’t be the last time he feels this. As parents, the best we can do is listen to him, help him sort through what he experiencing and always be there to give him a hug.
If you need more help or someone to listen to you a good place to start is JDRF – here is a link to their peer support program, it’s a great place to talk to people who are experiencing the same thing as you. http://www.jdrf.org.au/type-1-diabetes/jdrf-peer-support-program
Until next week,
Jen, Brad and Hamish (carving it up in Myoko Kogan, Japan!)
PS We’ve lept into the world of social media – if you want to follow us we are on: