Monday, March 14, 2011

Not Quite the Only One . . .

All weekend and into today, I’ve been immersed in the updates from JDRF’s Government Day.  I watched the Blogger Round Table live and was so proud of my friends who worked so hard to advocate.  (If you missed the live-stream, you can still catch the archived video here.  Click on the one entitled JDRF Government Day Blogger).  I’ve also been following all of the action on Twitter - look for the #JDRFGovDay hashtag.

One of the presentations this morning prompted some side chatter about whether or not others in our families have Type 1 Diabetes.  This topic actually comes up more often than you would think, and I always answer that I’m the only T1 in my family.  But when I think about it, I realize it isn’t really true . . . .

Only one person in this picture has T1 diabetes (hint: it's me).
But everyone in this picture has more than one relative with T1.

My aunt by marriage (she married my Mom’s oldest brother) had Type 1 diabetes.  (She’s not in the picture above.  I’d have to make a run to my parent’s house to dig out a picture of my aunt.)  For as far back as I can remember she was in poor health.  She was on dialysis.  She needed a walker.  Eventually she couldn’t come to our house for visits because she wasn’t strong enough to walk to the second floor to use the bathroom.  She was never anything but kind and loving and I don’t ever once remember her complaining about anything.  She was an amazing woman.  In the spring of 1986, just as we arrived home after buying my prom dress, the phone rang and we got the news that she was gone.  (And yes, I do think that was one of the events that pushed me into the diabetes denial and rebellion I experienced during my college years.)

That leaves me as the only surviving Type 1 diabetic in my family, right?  Well, no, not quite.  Her daughter, my first cousin, also has Type 1.  So why am I always likely to say I’m the only Type 1 in my family?  It’s not because I’m lying.  It’s because I honestly forget.  You see, my cousin is not in touch with our family.  The last time I saw her was almost 10 years ago, at our grandmother’s funeral.  Her surprise exclamation of  “Karen, oh my gosh, you’re a grown woman now!” is a clue to how long it had been since the last time we’d seen each other.

Does Type 1 diabetes run in my family?  Yes, I guess it sort of does.  I’m one of three T1s - one related to me by marriage and one by blood.  And still, in a way, I am the only T1 in my family.  And thinking about that today makes me very very sad.  I miss my wonderful aunt very much and I wish she had lived to benefit from all of the amazing advancements in diabetes treatment.  And I regret that my cousin and I don’t have a chance to share our bond and lean on each other.

On the other hand, these circumstances make me even more thankful to have found the Diabetes On-Line Community.  We may not be related by blood,  but we share a bond more special than family ties.  And for that, I am very grateful.


  1. This has been an amazing weekend! I LOVED the roundtable :) That was so fun and SO COOL to be a part of it!

    As far as I'm aware, my daughter is the only T1 on either side. Our family, however, doesn't keep in touch very there's a hidden cousin or someone out there?

  2. Same here. I have one cousin that is T1, and he's a good 20-30 years older than I am. We were never close, but I still paid attention to every little thing they told me about him. When he went into kidney failure, it crushed me not just because he was sick, but because it was something that *could* be my future.
    Other than him, we have no other T1s that we know of, just lots of T2's.

  3. I know there's no T1 on my biological mother's side of the family. I don't know anything about my biological father,s so it could run there. But I do know that I'm the only T1 in my adoptive family. Sometimes its strange not to know.

  4. Great post. I am the only Type I in my family, no one else has it. My grandfather had Type II, but had no complications and lived a healthy life. I had a great-great uncle who had Type I, but he died long before I was even born. Even when it comes to folks by marriage, cousins, second cousins, aunts, uncles, etc...I have yet to hear of anyone else who has Type 1. I think there are some others who are Type II though. It can be awfully lonely, of course I wouldn't want anyone else to have to join this club! I was diagnosed so suddenly in my late twenties, I often wonder if others who are around my age are ticking time bombs though. Heaven forbid.

  5. Great post. I always draw comfort, insight, and knowledge from the PWD blogs. I was amazed by K2's family ties with "D".

    When Joe was diagnosed...I was shocked b/c I incorrectly assumed that we should have a family history of type 1 for him to get it. We Joe is the only one, so far.

    Great being at the round table with you...on-line!!! xoxo

  6. If you trace hard enough its there. My Maternal Grandfather had later onset Type 1, now Me, now 2 out of my five kids. Hmmm, something suspiciously genetic going on here, great post. I luv the old photographs. Cheers.

  7. Major Type 1 in my family. My g'ma had 8 brothers and sisters, and it is the grandchildren of these sibs that have it. By the time I was diagnosed, I had seen every major complication leading to long slow deaths.
    Now when my nephews ask for refills on their soda, I always have a quick flash of fear.
    BTW, love that bib apron the lady on our right has on- simply classic.

  8. My son is the only one with type 1 in our family. However, we do have a lot of autoimmune diseases throughout.

    Great post!

  9. I really am the only one with Type 1 in my family...UNLESS there is a cousin or great aunt in the Philippines that has it and we just don't know.

  10. big hugs! i also felt the same warm feeling connecting with other people with the diabetes burden (regardless if they are the ones having the condition or just carrying their loved ones') via facebook, and NDA forum.

  11. oh gosh.

    my son was the only one, then DUH also my dad's mom and my husband's uncle...then ME, then my other son...i am certain my sister and her kids are next.


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