I’m realizing anew just how hard it is to be a parent. Academically, it’s easy to say that we can’t protect our children from everything, but emotionally that is a hard reality to accept.
On my blog, I’ve been posting recently about our horrible week (see here). By far the worst piece of news we’ve gotten is that our little daughter is predisposed to developing Type 1 diabetes. Worst Christmas gift ever. It’s not as surprising as one might think, given that Dad Q. developed Type 1 diabetes at 14. And, after all, we enrolled our children in a study precisely because they are high-risk relatives of a Type 1 diabetic.
As with all autoimmune diseases, researchers aren’t sure about much of anything. They know that diabetes appears to be caused by a mish-mash of genetic and environmental components. They know that most diabetics have some of the auto-antibodies associated with diabetes, but not all people who have those same auto-antibodies develop diabetes.
The days after the researcher called us I sobbed. I asked my husband to test our daughter’s blood, just because. Every time she complains about not feeling well, I assume it’s because she’s becoming a full-blown diabetic.
But my husband keeps reminding me that she’s not a diabetic right now. As the researcher noted, it might never develop into active diabetes. I’m trying to be optimistic.
I’m grateful for the information we’ve been given so that we can be alert and provide timely intervention if she needs it. I’m grateful that we can modify her diet now and perhaps curb some of the inflammation that’s occurring. I’m grateful that I have some time to wrap my brain around the fact that someday, maybe soon, I might need to be her pancreas until she’s old enough to do it on her own.
I can’t protect her, I guess, but I can do everything in my power to empower us and her in the meantime.