A lot of things changed in my life when I became a parent. My own diabetes started to look a bit different now because it wasn’t just my well being at risk–and speaking of risk…the looming specter of an unexpected diagnosis for my daughter was another unwelcome visitor that would repeatedly drop in just to eat some food out of my fridge and mooch the “free” wi-fi. I wrestled with the decision of “whether or not to screen” a lot, as you may remember from this previous blog.
I felt immediately better once the test was completed even though the results were still unknown. Whatever the outcome was to be, at least we were closer to a solution that was reality-based and not imaginary. Remember when people used to use AIM (AOL Instant Messenger)? Back when I was in college I remember one friend who had an “away message” that said something to the effect of: ‘I’d rather just do what I’m thinking about and live with the consequences. This way I’ll have problems, but at least they will be real problems. This will help me cut down drastically on my imaginary problems.”
Out of the frying pan and into the fire, so to speak.
In the following weeks I forced myself to put the issue out of my mind because a watched pot never boils. It was only when Stefanie brought me an envelope to open that it all sort of hit me again. She was nervous about opening it and couldn’t do it herself. I summed all my rational willpower, knowing that the results would not change based on my ignorance. I tore it open in my characteristic slipshod fashion and fumbled around with the paper. The verdict read: not guilty.
I am not writing this to say ‘do or don’t’. That’s a really personal decision and I have spent time waffling between either view. Type 1 diabetes screening was the right choice for me though and I am thankful that it is offered free of charge thanks to Trialnet. I believe that it would have been the right choice regardless of the results of the test. I don’t believe that the risk and feeling of vulnerability really ever goes away. No test is 100% and we will have to get yearly (or so) tests done to keep tabs and stay aware of changes.
Stefanie and I talked a lot about what we would do if the results came back indicating that she was predisposed to get type 1. What really encouraged me was that so many of the things that I had to learn on my own, I would be able to share with her. Diabetes has given me many tools in life that I am thankful for and even now I can see that we have begun to try to pass those on in small ways. Diet is a huge issue for me and we all eat very similarly–something that would not be the case if I had not been diagnosed. I don’t think that Stefanie and Lilo are quite as carb restricted as I am but we all eat very clean and that’s a gift I am glad to give her moving forward, even if somewhere down the line type 1 diabetes is wrapped up in our genes.
Parenting is a crapshoot, that is for sure. I wonder some days if anything gets through that thick little skull (referring to my daughter!). Other days I am thankful for that stubbornness because I know that can be so valuable in the coming years, if a bit demanding in the present time. There is something to be said for being stubborn and knowing what you want. Some would say that is a family characteristic. I know my father still wishes that I’d take up canoeing and settle down at a real job and cut my hair.
As I prepare to take my family into a new adventure that will involve many ups and downs I am thankful for the support of my wife that has seen me through many ups and downs already. It is not because I think it’s so romantic and idealized that I am excited about moving our family into a little trailer and chasing adventure with everything we have; it’s precisely because I know how hard it is, but that we can do it. At the end of my days I would rather have lived a harder life because of the challenges that I tried to surmount and couldn’t than to endlessly fantasize about a perfect solution that lived only in my mind.
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