As most of you know Abbie is our oldest daughter. She is 11 and her younger sister, Jamee, is 9. When Abbie was first diagnosed this disease CONSUMED us. I will fully admit I didn’t know how to deal with everything it took away from the family, how to give Abbie the attention she needed, how to maintain myself, how to maintain my marriage, how to maintain my job, and how to maintain my other child. That was the big one…. I think the toughest challenge is the other siblings.
When Abbie first came home we sat down as a family and tried to explain that until we got everything under control… (because that was going to happen right?) … Abbie was going to require more attention and if Jamee ever noticed it or it bothered her we really needed her to step up and just tell us. But I mean she was 7, what 7-year-old would look at Mom and Dad and tell them she felt left out. Jamee was and still is the most loving and gentle child I have ever met. She wants nothing more than to make everyone else happy, so for her to look at someone and tell them that they need to focus more on her would just not work in her favor. So, for the first month or so everything seemed to go very smoothly. Jamee even seemed to want to be overly involved. She would help get Abbie’s lunches and snacks ready. She wanted to learn everything there was about T1D. We thought it was very sweet and it fit very well with her nature.
Then about a month later, she became very distant and started picking arguments with her sister. She would talk back to us and would try anything to be defiant. She no longer wanted to help when it came to anything T1D related at all. I remember looking at Andy and telling him this was an attention thing but I didn’t feel like we were showing Abbie more attention or I didn’t see a way to show her any less. I mean she had to have the amount she was getting right? So, what could we do? I mean it was a rock and a hard place. Abbie was not self-sufficient enough to take care of the major or even the minor stuff without help and we couldn’t divert all of our attention away to placate Jamee. And placate might be an awful term but at that time that is how it felt.
I remember sitting Jamee down, just her and I, and asking her what was going on. She denying anything of course and me having to pull it out of her. She broke down into tears and asked if we still loved her as much as we loved Abbie. (insert broken heart here) That’s when I figured out that since Abbie had come home, T1D had consumed us. It had taken over everything, our walls, our fridge, our eating habits, our conversation, our family outings, even how we treated each other…everything. And it was going to end that day. Don’t get me wrong, T1D will always be there and it is something we have to talk about but we just try to take a lighter approach to it now.
It’s the small things, instead of asking Abbie first thing when she gets in the car after school, “how was your blood sugar today?”, I ask her “how was school today”, or I speak to Jamee first. We have put T1D on the backburner if you were looking in but still have tight control only because we have learned how to have a conversation without having the conversation. We make sure to do lots of things NON T1D related and since that day we all made a pact with each other that if the attention turned back that way again we would speak up. Has it happened? Absolutely…. When Abbie went on the pump and the Dexcom our world was changed again. The focus went back 100% on T1D, Jamee stepped up and put a halt to it. So, we all worked together to make sure we maintained the family focus that we needed to have. Does it get out of whack…yep all the time. We are not perfect, no one is, and if they tell you they are they lie or it’s what they need you to believe. However, we work on it daily and as long as my kids can grow up saying they know we all tried as a family… well that is all that matters to me.
XOXO P.S. My thumb is slowly healing hopefully, MRI is next week or so and we will find out if I have to have surgery or not… fingers crossed not…