Thank You, Diabetes: Finding Gratitude in the Face of Chronic Illness

Photo Sep 12, 9 32 07 AM

Lily…living on the sunnyside of life.

I know that from most of my blog posts, it might seem like our world over here at the Alexander household is a lot of doom and gloom. I just want to tell you that it absolutely is NOT. Sure, we have our fair share of hard days (or maybe more like hard hours as I try to cajole my toddler into getting a needle inserted firmly into her butt so that it can stay there for the next 2 days, only to be replaced by another one). But we try to make diabetes just one aspect of our everyday lives, like emptying the dishwasher, or cooking dinner, or cleaning up our toys.

And to be honest, when I take stock of all the things I’m grateful for, I try to always put diabetes on that list. As crazy as that may sound, it’s so important to recognize the positive things it has brought into our lives. Here’s a few:

  • Strength: I’ve certainly had a few instances in my life where I needed to summon some inner strength, but being the mother of a diabetic toddler takes the cake. If I wasn’t strong before, you can bet I am now. You don’t want to mess with this mama bear. I’ve got shit to do and people to take care of, and I’m flexing these “momcreas” muscles all day everyday.
  • Confidence: Diabetes has made me realize that I am a badass mom, woman, and overall person existing on this planet. Also, my daughter is a serious diabadass who is tougher than many grown men I know. I no longer have the time nor patience to care about what other people think. It’s fantastic.
  • Perspective and prioritization: Caring for a child with a chronic illness that requires 24/7 attention will help you prioritize your life real quick. What matters most? Health, family, close friends, work (gotta keep that health insurance and make that money to pay for diabetes). Oh, the house hasn’t been cleaned in a month? WHO CARES! My child is alive and healthy and fed – yay!
  • Gratitude: I am so thankful for the good days that it usually makes up for the bad days. If I sleep through the night, I feel like I’m walking on water the whole next day. If I can keep her numbers in range for 80 percent of the day, I feel like a fucking warrior and I thank the heavens for allowing us to have a decent day.
  • Grace: This one is a work in progress. I strive to make diabetes look easy to my kid and to be graceful and skilled in handling her care. I try not to overact when I see a terrible number pop up on her glucometer. I try not to get worked up when we’re on our third pump change of the day and she’s crying and miserable. This requires a blend of subtle detachment, stoicism, compassion, and steely strength. Another aspect of grace I’m working on is keeping it together when the following happens:
    • Someone makes an ignorant comment about diabetes
    • Someone is bitching about something trivial and inconsequential
    • I feel like I can no longer relate to others
  • Healthy Habits: Though we certainly ate a healthy diet before Lily’s diagnosis, diabetes has forced us to cut out even more foods that don’t serve our bodies well. This doesn’t mean we don’t have treats — trust me, we do. It’s just that we appreciate them more. If you tell Lily she’s getting ice cream, you would think she won the f’ing lottery. We also make an effort to all be more active together because exercise is such a huge part of managing diabetes, and will be even more so as she gets older.

I encourage you to take the time today to be grateful for something difficult in your life. It’s not easy to do, but forcing yourself to shift your mindset around something challenging — even for a few minutes a day — can begin to make a lasting impact.


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