The house is sparkling, Christmas lights are draped across mirrors, covering sticky handprints on the windows and twinkling on the Christmas tree. Some presents are wrapped and ready to go, and the garage hides a multitude of festive treats.
I have even baked mince pies.
It is like I am having an affair with Santa Claus, I am so ready for Christmas this year.
Last year was a blur, we were only a month on since Twin Girl’s diabetic diagnosis and although we decorated the tree, hung the lights and stamped glitter on baubles, my heart wasn’t feeling the season to be merry. But, like most things, it is only with hindsight that I can appreciate how broken I felt when my child was diagnosed with a condition that I couldn’t cure.
We had a wonderful Christmas Day, surrounded by friends and family, and I think it was then that I started to feel human once more. We ate turkey till we were fill to burst and staged injections around multiple courses. We finished the day with coffee and cheese and did blood tests on all our of our guests, you’d be amazed at how many people want to know what their sugar levels are.
I have received a couple of emails in the last few weeks, from parents of newly diagnosed children with type one diabetes, each time I am thrown back to the moment of diagnosis, when my world starting spinning with a ferocity that made me feel violently ill. I know how these mothers feel and my heart breaks for them, but the only words of comfort that I can offer, is, it will get better. As Steve Redgrave said, ‘diabetes needs to learn to live with you, not the other way round.’
Once you accept the gremlin that steals your child’s insulin as a friend, it becomes far easier to cope with. But my eyes fill as I type as I remember the early, dark days.
Last year my daughter asked Father Christmas to take her diabetes away. This year, she told me she wouldn’t get rid of it for the world, she would much prefer a Playmobil hotel than a functioning pancreas. Her diabetes is part of her, and has made her such a stronger little person.
I don’t quite agree, having read extensively about the complications diabetes can cause, and after a year of waking at 2am to check blood sugar levels I could quite happily return diabetes to the shop. However, I can’t find the receipt, so it seems like we are stuck together. But I have a wish list for Santa this year which could maybe still help.
- The diabetic care in the UK varies tremendously between different primary care trusts. What one diabetic child is eligible for in one postcode does not necessarily translate to the next. My daughter got an insulin pump after a year, others wait far longer. The pump has changed our lives, it has given my daughter normality back, I want this option for all diabetic kids and adults. At the moment in the UK 6% of type one diabetics have insulin pump therapy, it is heavily reliant on funding, training and cost.
- I want our government to invest more in researching and hunting for a cure, currently we invest far less than America, Canada and Australia, I have written to my MP to asking him to represent my family, I wait eagerly for his response. More investment means greater access to pump therapy.
- I want to be able to walk into my doctors surgery and put in my prescription without being told that it is too soon, and we can’t have the test strips needed to check my daughters blood sugar levels because we have used too many. Try treating four hypos in a row without testing your child’s blood sugar levels.
- I want parents who take children to the GP with signs of tiredness, needing to use the toilet all the time, thirst and weight loss to be given a finger prick test and told the results instantly, not to be asked to pee in a pot and get the results a week later. Diabetes can kill if left untreated.
For our family, Christmas this year looks set to be brighter, with more lights, and more smiles. For families of newly diagnosed kids, Christmas will taste bitter sweet as they clamber past the shock and get ready for a new type of normal.
I pledge to do as much as I can to make their journey easier.
This post is brought to you in association with White Stores – some beautiful Christmas ideas and fabulous lights