Recently, I have heard more than one person talk about how diabetes affects the siblings of a child with T1. Ally is our T1 and our oldest. Her sister, Jessi, is just 4 years old. I don't even think she remembers life before Ally's D. And I KNOW that Lexi, who is 8 months old, does not remember life before Ally's D, because she was born shortly after D entered our lives. I really had not given much thought to the idea that D affected them too. But today it crossed my mind.
Sure, when Ally was first diagnosed, Jessi went through a period of time where she seemed to be acting out for attention. At 3 years old she didn't understand why Ally was all of a sudden the center of attention...ALL.THE.TIME! She didn't understand why all of a sudden she had to wait to get her food until we had finished checking Ally's blood sugar, weighing food, counting carbs, calculating boluses, giving Ally her shot - Wait, I forgot...one of us holding Ally down while the other one of us gave her the shot:( (This is for another story...but I am reminded of how much we now love the pump when I think back about all this stuff!)
But back to Jessi. She did go through some adjustments, just as we all did. But now D is just part of her life. I heard her tell a friend the other day, "My sister has diabetes." The friend said, "oh." And they went on and played. That is how I think Jessi looks at it now - "oh." It's just part of our life.
Today though, I was reminded that D has affected Jessi too. I went grocery shopping this morning, with Jessi and Lexi in tow. I don't typically let the girls talk me into buying special things for them while we are shopping. However, they have learned that by the end of a big grocery list I am tired and I might answer yes to anything as long as they just keep up with the cart! Today was one of those days. Apparently, Jessi asked me if she could buy some Swedish Fish. And apparently, I said yes. They ended up on the conveyor belt at checkout. I asked her where those came from and she answered, "It's ok, they're just mine." Well, I caved, partly because I was too tired to continue the conversation, and partly because it crossed my mind that I never just spontaneously buy them candy anymore. Not Anymore.
So all the way home in the car I was thinking about how Jessi too has been affected by D. Sure, in this case, she is better off for it. Less spontaneous candy buying. Less sugary treats around the house (at least not just for fun, only to be used to treat a low BG!). But it was symbolic really. Just as those Swedish Fish sneakily ended up in my grocery cart...D so sneakily interferes with Jessi's life too. She still hears people asking about how Ally is doing. She still has to ask which plate is hers so that she does not take the one with the carefully measured out food - for Ally. She still cannot have a juice box whenever she wants - because we may need it to treat a low blood sugar later! She still feels left out when Ally gets a snack/juice box and she doesn't. She still gets awakened in the night when we check Ally's BG (they share a room). Most of all, she sees her sister who she loves so much have to fight with D every single day! Jessi never complains about things being unfair. Instead, I hear her say, "I wish Ally wouldn't have diabetes anymore." Me too.
**I just finished posting this and then I went upstairs to check Ally's BG before heading to bed. I found Jessi in bed with Ally, the two of them snuggled up together in a twin bed!