19 years later and the guilt remains

feeling guilty Diabtes Advocacy

I found this photo the other night. It was tucked away in an album I had created for my son when he was just a baby. There were sweet memories and even a bit about the time he spent in the hospital after his diagnosis with type 1 diabetes.  When I saw this photo however I wanted to cry. I felt so terribly guilty.

It has been nineteen years since this photo was taken.  My son is now a  strong young man living on his own.  The years have brought both of my children many challenges in their short lives and the way they have handled them makes me proud. Looking at this photo, however, cuts me to the core. How did I not see?

When I posted this photo to social media someone commented that the boys looked happy.  Another person commented on how cute they were.  I was struck by how thin my youngest was.  His little face was hollow looking.  His eyes seemed to be sunken in his small head. How did I miss that?

My youngest was always the slimmer of the two boys. He was born a pound lighter than his older brother.  Throughout his life, he has always managed to remain slim. Looking at this photo though, he was beyond slim.  As some would say, he looks poorly.  He has a sickly pallor behind the glimmer in his eye. Why didn’t I see that then?

I now know that his body was eating itself to survive. He was just making enough insulin to keep himself out of the hospital. I know that holiday treats and Christmas dinner must have been hard on his small body.  His blood sugars would have been skyrocketing out of control.  No one was stopping them.  No one was helping his tiny little body to work properly. What sort of parent was I?

I made sure that my children ate very few preservatives.  I attempted to keep my them safe from toxins.  While I thought I took good care of them, this picture suggests otherwise. Somehow I missed this. I didn’t see him fading before my eyes.

19 years ago this picture was taken.  I thought that I was long past the feelings of guilt and sadness. It would appear I was wrong.  An image of two sweet, small faces smiling from under a Christmas tree brought it all rushing back.  This picture of innocence has unleashed a flood of reprimands for my former self.

This is why parents of children with diabetes don’t need society to blame us for our child’s diagnosis.  Years later, we can still berate ourselves for what we didn’t do.  We can still cry over the fact that we failed to protect our children from their own bodies…even when it really isn’t our fault. We still feel guilty.

Make sure that you know the signs of type 1 diabetes. 

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4 thoughts on “19 years later and the guilt remains”

  1. I know when I was Dx’d my mom had the same feelings. I also know she harbored those feelings until her death. Mom was T1, and just believed she should have known. I know that is not true, but as a T1 father I get it.

    One thing I always thought is that if one of my sons were Dx’d or even one of the grandchildren, I cannot imagine how I would react.

    Easier said than done for certain. Many blessings mom, your son will never blame his parents, ever.

  2. Thank you for writing this. My son was diagnosed with type 1 two and half years ago. Luckily we recognized something was wrong when he wasn’t able to quench his thirst and his constant need to go to the bathroom. Dealing with this disease is as much a struggle for the parents as it is for the kids. We feel like we failed in our primary job to protect the ones we love more than anything. Thank you again.

    1. Thank you so much for the kind words. As parents, we think of ourselves as protectors (even from the impossible). I try not to waste a lot of energy on the guilt because taking care of our kids can take enough energy, but sometimes it slips in there.

  3. As a T1 diagnosed at 9 how would you know? It is only recently that the signs of T1D are posted mainly by the T1D community and still bet most don’t know the signs. Nothing can be said to help ease those feelings. But thank you for finding out we had T1D and we got the help needed. Thank you for your sleepless nights of our highs and lows. Thank you for the endless blood checks and needles and site changes. Thank you for the hours on the phone with insurance companies for our supplies. Thank you for racing over to the school or whatever sports practice with more fast carbs as we went low. The list of thank you could keep going on for awhile but you and I both know all you did for me(us).

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