April 26, 2010

Swedish Fish

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!


  1. Your little girls are so cute sleeping together! Reminds me of my twins sleeping so close together. I was just thinking about the same thing the other day. I try so hard to spread out the same amount of attention to all of my kids but Diabetes seems to win almost all of the time. Thanks for you post it does make me think.

  2. Aw, great story Misty! Those Swedish Fish meant a lot to Jessi :). You are right, it becomes a part of their everyday life. I see my friends kids dealing with Ally's Leukemia and it is part of their life. Little Carly (who is 2) doesn't know any different. We were having fun the other night trying on Ally's wig, just being silly and Carly did not recognize Ally with hair! I had no idea everything you go through on a daily basis with Ally's D. Wow.
    I love the last picture,especially that little thumb sucker ;)

  3. OMGsh...THAT IS SO SWEET!!! When I have those moments with my girls, I just want to find a way to suspend the time.

    Sweedish Fish are da bomb. And, ya know...it's okay. Every now and then, it's just okay.

  4. Misty, you could have easily been writing about my kids. D definitely affects all siblings.

    My little one, Max, is four, and he definitely does not remember life before Jack's diagnosis. He recently announced that one of his stuffed animals, a sock monkey named Zach, now has diabetes, and he's very concerned about Zach. I just blogged about it the other day. Also, Max will often ask, "How many carbs is this?"

    Madeline, my eight-year-old, sneaks candy all the time. I find empty wrappers in her desk drawer and under her bed. Whenever it's just the two of us alone, she'll ask things like "Can we go out for ice cream?" and "Can I have candy?"

    I would have given in and bought those Swedish fish, too!

    Though they don't share a room, my boys sleep together all the time. So sweet! I love it!

  5. I try to tell this to my non-D friends all the time...to explain the guilt I carry about my daughter Bridget. D takes a HUGE psycho-social toll on the whole family...it is the innocent, non-D kids that bothers me the most. Thanks for posting.


  6. My D-kids oldest sibling has said that before too, "I wish Audrey didn't have diabetes anymore." It's so heartbreaking when you hear a sibling say that. My oldest remembers life before D and sometimes says she wishes things were the way they were before. She hates it that Audrey is sick, but at the same time she is so sweet with her.

    It is crazy how D affects the whole family. Thanks so much for sharing.

  7. I LOVE the pic of Jessi with the Sweedish Fish! That's how I look when I get a bag, too! They are my FAV!

    You've got three wonderful girls! It's so heartbreaking to realize how it affects EVERYTHING! But you know... Jessi may have more empathy than her peers because of it. SHe might grow up to be a doctor or a nurse or dietician or something because of it. She will totally grow up with an understanding of D - and she might just save someone's life.

    It sucks. It's not fair. It hurts. But you just never know.... God chose this path for all of us. I don't know why. But HE does. And He'll use it for good. I'm sure of it!

    Love those sleeping angels!

  8. Misti, such a beautiful reflection on your day to day life. I love the pics you captured, they are priceless!


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