As DMoms, we are always looking for support. We long to network with people who "get it", people who understand what we go through daily. Even if we've been doing this for years, it's always refreshing to speak with someone that has those breakdowns, those frustrations, those people we can "do life" with. We're wired to share with others and it certainly helps to have someone that can say, "I've been there, I've done that, and no you're not a freak because you cry all day and you're jealous of those couples that can have a life outside of having a child with a chronic illness." It's hard! And there is no one that struggles with parenting a child with diabetes that will tell you "our life is all rainbows and pots of gold." There are days diabetes life doesn't seem difficult and other days it downright SUCKS!
We're nearing Kacey's 4 year Diabetes Anniversary and it's around this time that I always start thinking back to what we were doing this time before the dreaded day. She was sick, she'd been sick and we didn't know those symptoms. When she was diagnosed, I was alone. I had NO ONE to turn to. Not one single friend completely understood what I was going through. The phrase, "Awww I'm sorry, she'll outgrow it as she gets older" swirled through my head like a raging fire. I actually felt my skin crawl when someone would say that to me. I'd cry, I'd get angry, I'd scream at God for putting my family through this and I'd meltdown like that Wicked Witch of the West on Wizard of Oz. What was my world coming to?
As time passed, I was able to take a step back and I understood completely what I was going through and if I didn't go through the exact process then I'd never "heal" completely. We'd suffered a loss. No matter how you look at it, it's a loss.
A loss of a pancreas. A loss of a life. A loss of a normal day. A loss of a normal marriage. A loss of a healthy child. A loss of money. A loss of self.
I'd never suffered a loss like this. How was I going to deal with it and make my life as normal as it could be under the circumstances?
I had to identify my problem....GRIEF. I was grieving and really not aware that I was. I felt like I'd failed as a mother, as a wife, as a caregiver and I just wanted to crawl in a hole and never come out. The loss was consuming me and I let it beat me around for months. And then....I woke up and started to apply those "stages".
There are 5 stages to GRIEF.
STAGE 1- DENIAL & ISOLATION
Although I wasn't openly denying Kacey had diabetes, I still kept holding hope those those few little beta cells left alive would somehow regenerate and she'd be miraculously cured and this was all a dream. I'd isolated myself from all my friends. Why? You'd think I'd pull them closer so I could lean on them, right? But doing that would be admitting I was weak. It would be admitting I was failing and needed help. I had to show the strong face and walk tall. MISTAKE! I should have drawn them close and let them help carry me and admit my weakness. I set myself up for falling and it led to MANY "Mommy meltdowns".
STAGE 2- ANGER
Ohhhh boy was I ever angry! Angry at myself. Angry with the doctors. Angry with God. I was mean, irritable and it seemed like every little thing set me off. I was miserable! I seemed to cry all the time and I lashed out out of frustration. "Why was God punishing our family? Why did WE have to go through this? What did she do to deserve this suffering?" I was tired. I wanted to give up and just give in but somehow that little voice inside me...maybe that whisper from God...telling me GET YOUR BUTT UP AND MOVE IT! You ARE strong now SHOW it! I pushed through blogging, many times through tears. No one around me seemed to understand, not even my husband. I still felt so alone. There were several around me that tried to understand but until you live it, you can't fully understand what swirls through a DMoms head in a days time and then they wonder WHY we can't sleep. I mean, geesh, we MUST be exhausted after a day of caring for them, right? Ummm....HELL YEAH we're exhausted BUT who is going to get up at 11pm, 2am and 6am to make sure that their child is still breathing? Who is going to get up and sit up when their child has a severe low just to make sure they're in safe range and stay there? Who is going to get up and sit awake when their child's sugar is dangerously high and correct with insulin every 2 hours until they're back in range? A DMOM DOES! I had every right to be angry. I never got a break....NEVER! Even when my husband said he'd do the middle of the night check, I still set my alarm to make sure he woke up and then I'd lay there to make sure he checked her and I'd ask what her sugar was. Otherwise I wouldn't be able to rest. Sure, I didn't physically get out of the bed but I was still awake which led to tiring days again. Yep, I was angry!
STAGE 3- BARGAINING
Yes I did that...MANY TIMES! "God, please put this on me and don't make her suffer through it. I will do anything to take it away." "Maybe if we choose no carb meals or low carb meals then she won't need so much insulin and she won't have to have a shot." "I promise to do anything if you just cure her God." I did my fair share of pleading, begging, bargaining, whatever you want to call it. I would do just about anything to take this away from her and get our "normal" life back. And then the part where I blamed myself. "If only I'd seen the symptoms sooner", "If only I'd taken her to the emergency room", "If only I'd saw that she was drinking way too much". The "If only's" flooded my brain and consumed me. Which then led to....
STAGE 4- DEPRESSION
If you'd asked me then if I was depressed, I'd say "Nope!" and smile like it didn't bother me but inside it tore me up and inside out. I was depressed and still very angry. To the point that I probably could have easily been medicated if I'd sought help. With depression comes so many things....in my case....the weight gain was the worst. I sat home, didn't eat and when I did it was a snack of something unhealthy and I was damaging my body inside. The weight creeped up and to the point it was out of control. I tipped the scales at my highest weight ever and it wasn't until I really had a reality smack that I saw what it was doing to me. I'm not going to say that I still don't suffer from some of it but I will say that the depression I had was NOTHING like today. I was miserable, alone, and at my lowest point ever in life. I felt like every single bit of life had been sucked out of me. Ya ever see the commercial from the depression medication where the lady is walking around and the black hole with eyes follows her? Or the one where she is wearing the blue robe with the sad eyes and she's carrying around the weight of everything on her shoulders? Yep! That was me! I felt like I was carrying the burdens of this disease and I had NO life and I'd completely stopped living mine. It was a nasty dark place in my life.
STAGE 5- ACCEPTANCE
Many times it takes people years to make it to this stage of the grieving process. It's tough to accept and sometimes people don't ever make it to this stage. Thankfully I have. Grieving is such an individual experience and no one can ever fully feel what you do. Nobody can help you go through it more easily or understand all the emotions that you’re going through. But others can be there for you and help comfort you through this whole process. The best thing you can do is to allow yourself to feel the grief as it comes over you. Resisting it only will prolong the natural process of healing. The steps to grieving are always the same but the emotions one feels will not be. I'm not sure when I totally accepted everything but there came a time when those meltdowns were not every day. Our life became a new "normal". I gained the ability to trust that someone other than me could take care of Kacey. I was able to leave and go to the grocery store for a few hours and not worry. I started making friends again and pulling them close. My REAL and TRUE friends tried to understand my daily life, sympathisized with what I was dealing with, understood when I had to cancel plans at the last minute and still loved me anyway. Those friends are still by my side to this day. They didn't leave me, they called to make sure we were ok after a few days of not hearing from us and even though I can't see them every single day, they're there when I need them.
And as I think back through the process, I wonder how I ever made it through? I had amazing family support, a great group of friends and the one who never left my side....GOD! He was there holding my hand when we were given the diagnosis. He stood there and smiled as I screamed at him for putting us through this. He cried with me as I pleaded and begged Him to give this disease to me. Yet, I chose to walk alone. I didn't have to! I only thought I was alone. He was there with me every single step of the way and all I had to do was ask Him to come into my life and help me through this process. Once I did that, my faith is what got me through. I needed Him and He was there. And if I'd opened my ears I'd of heard Him, "My child, I'm not doing this to punish you or Kacey. I'm making you stronger. I'm growing you in faith and knowledge. I'm helping you to see that life could be MUCH worse. I'm making you more compassionate, helpful and loving. If only you could see youself the way I see you. If only you could understand YOU ARE NOT ALONE. I am here, I never left and I never will."
And that my friends, was my turning point.
Now, I'm not going to sit here and say that our life is full of rainbows, pots of gold, unicorns and glitter....IT'S NOT! But I've accepted this life God gave me. I thank him for every day I wake up and put my feet on the floor. I thank him for giving me another day with these babies that are on "loan" to me. At any second, He could take all of that way from me. As Francesca says...."In the middle of my little mess, I forget how big I'm blessed!" We all tend to forget that life is so precious and we tend to dwell on the "poor me". I'm here to tell you my friend, this life is not about YOU! This life is about living it for HIM!
Now back to my point, we all need friends. We all need people we can "do life" with, people that are walking similar paths we are. People that can hold us accountable and hold our hands when we need it, even if it's long distance. When I first started blogging when Kacey was diagnosed, I had NO ONE! Then I found the DOC and all my DMamas and DPeeps. They "got it"! They understood why my hair was a mess, my teeth weren't brushed and I walked around like a Zombie with a cuppa coffee. I had the chance to be upheld by many wonerful people on here. I didn't have a local support group. There just weren't any close by since the hospital is an hour and a half away. There were a few kids in other schools, all boys and no Mamas that really wanted to "do diabetes life" with me. I've always longed to have a group of friends that Kacey could call her "DPeeps" and they could show off pumps and share stories of what they've been through. My hope is that as more children are diagnosed with this dreaded disease, that more Mamas come forward and reach out. My journey with diabetes is not over, we have good days, we have bad days and there are still times I wanna reach out to other DMamas that know those struggles and feel that pain. So to all those local Mamas that read this....let's get together and "do diabetes life". We can support one another along the way and our kids can be support to one another. After all, THEY are the ones that need it most. We go through it with them but unless you're a T1D yourself, you can't ever fully feel what their poor bodies do in a days time.
May God bless each of you as you journey through your "process" and may we all be support and help for those out there who need it!