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.