I can honestly say that my mother and father saved my life. I would not be here today if they were not by my side. During a scary, worrisome time in my life, both of my parents provided an enormous amount of love and support in different ways.
My mother is my best travel buddy, my protector, my personal advocator, my number one cheerleader, and my soulmate. She was the only person first hand to witness my traumatic and life-changing diagnoses of type 1 diabetes. When I was 23 years old, my mom and I decided to take a mother-daughter summer trip to travel all across Europe. I began the trip excited and enthusiastic, but progressively started to get sicker and sicker. I had no energy, quickly lost a ton of weight, constantly drinking water like a camel, and urgently going to the bathroom like a racehorse. With my symptoms getting worse every day, I would have never had gone to the hospital without my mother’s natural intuition, guidance and support.
There we were in a foreign country where I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and taken to the ICU for days to bring my body out of diabetic ketoacidosis. My mom sat with me, holding my hand, as the doctors poked and prodded me with needles and IVs. We shared many tears wondering why this had to happen and how our highly anticipated trip made an unforeseen turn.
Once I was released, I started my new life as a type 1 diabetic. I had to reteach myself everything while trying to travel the rest of Europe. I had to quickly learn how to eat, exercise, manage daily stress, administer my own injections, and know what my body feels like when my blood sugar is high or low. My mom was there for me every step of the way, adjusting to her own feelings and figuring out how she could help me. When I experienced one of my first low blood sugar moments while walking around ancient Pompeii, my mom was there to sit me down as I was shaking and sweating. She was the one to help feed me candies to bring my blood sugar back up and to rest with me until I was ready to continue the tour.
During that summer, my mom and I were able to travel to five different countries for two months without seeing an American doctor. We were just surviving on our little knowledge of type 1 that we taught ourselves through online research and scarcely talking with my father, who was back in the United States. We pushed through our tough times and continued to think positively as the challenges of traveling and my disease tested us. I would have never been able to do any of that without my mother’s consistent support, unconditional love, intuition, and the will to keep moving forward beyond my disease.
At the same time, my father played a huge role in my survival as a fellow type 1 warrior, my teacher, my protector, and my role model. He has been living with type 1 for 20 years and I truly feel so unbelievably blessed that he understands everything that I feel: the complications, the frustrations, the depression, the good numbers, the lows, everything.
When my mom and I were traveling, I had very limited access to talk to my dad to tell him about my devastating news. The only way I was able to talk to him was stumbling across internet cafes where wifi was available, which wasn’t that common. But I did my best to keep in touch with him. He was able to explain to me what was happening to my body when my blood sugar was low or high. He taught me how certain kind of foods react to my blood sugar and how to figure out my own carbohydrate-to-insulin ratio. He told me how to get over my fear of needles and how to correctly take my insulin shots. He taught me how crucial it is to listen to your own body and to understand what it needs. Across different continents, he was able to teach me all of this and more, giving me confidence in understanding my disease.
Thanks, Mom and Dad, for your positive outlook. Knowing that I have you both in my corner at all times reminds me that I can conquer anything that I set my mind to.
If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, check out Quick & Easy Diabetic Recipes for One by Kathleen Stanley C.D.E.
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