Friday, May 11, 2012

2012 JDRF Gala & The Ever-Present D-Monster

April 21st was the annual Promise Benefit Gala for the local branch of the JDRF.  The theme this year was "Lights, Camera, Take Action", which was Old Hollywood-inspiration at its best.  More importantly than the theme, though, was the fact that we were able to raise over $280,000 for T1 research!  It was an awesome experience for me, especially since this was my first big JDRF event to attend as a board member.  The atmosphere in the room was truly amazing--you could just feel the passion and excitement everyone had for the mission to find a cure for T1!  My parents' business sponsored a table for the night, and two of my dad's siblings attended with their significant others along with my parents, my husband and I, and our little one.  I think we could have easily raised another several thousand had she been up for auction...I lost count of the people who asked!  Despite our refusal to give our baby girl up for the cause, though, the night was a resounding success and raised a ton of awareness (in addition to funding) for T1.

In all seriousness, though, an awesome eight-year-old with T1 said it best in his speech before the Fund-a-Cure program: "I can't take another year of this!"  That statement pretty much sums up everything everyone with T1 that I know feels about the need for a cure.  I had tears in my eyes as this little boy told his story, because as bad as it sucks for me to have to deal with this disease, my heart breaks for the kids (and their parents) who are forced to do the same.  When he talked about his dad checking his blood sugar in the middle of the night ("I don't even wake up!"), it really hit home for me how much it would hurt if my little one had to deal with this disease.  I hate even having to clip her fingernails or put her in her car seat (because we're still dealing with a staunch aversion to it at this point), and I couldn't stop from crying when she got her two-month shots...I can't imagine having to poke her little heel or give her insulin injections on a regular basis, and that's the reality parents of children with T1 have to face 24/7.  This disease is a constant (and very much unwanted) presence in my life, and I don't know how I'd be able to handle the worry that would come with my child being directly affected by it.

I've been thinking a lot lately about how my diabetes affects my family at this stage in our life...because as anyone knows, the person with T1 is definitely not the only one who has to deal with it!  Every time I have a low, it's not just me and my husband or whoever that has to wait for it to pass; now, there's a sweet little baby girl that has to wait for me to find some sugar--usually when she's hungry and is screaming to be fed, thanks to the d-monster's sick sense of humor in timing.  Every time that happens, I can't help but curse this stupid disease's existence.  Most of the time, I look at my having T1 as an opportunity to be a part of a cause bigger than myself, because it gives me the chance to help someone else through my experiences; however, when it starts to interfere with caring for my child, the ugly reality of living with it becomes clear once again.  It's not so much the day-to-day stuff that makes diabetes such a monster; it's the times it worms its way into your life, inevitably in the most inconvenient of moments that make you wish it would disappear the most.  The lows never hit when you're surrounded by endless sources of sugar (because that's when you're most likely dealing with a high anyway); they surface with all the subtlety and forewarning of a shark attack, usually when you're in the middle of trying to grocery shop or when you're somewhere with nothing but an empty glucose tablet container to keep you company.

So there's the ugly truth...even though I try to use my having T1 as an opportunity to be a part of something bigger than myself and maybe even make a difference in someone's life as a result, I (just like everyone else affected by it) ultimately curse the day my pancreas decided to go MIA.  I love being able to help out with the JDRF and meeting such amazing people as a result, but I'd much rather be celebrating a cure with them than our common tie being a monster of a disease.  In the days and weeks since the gala, there have been a couple of local teens who have been hospitalized with T1 complications...a stark reminder of the reason we all work so hard to raise awareness and money for this cause.  In the end, it's not about the organization or the money; it's about each and every person--child, teenager, or adult--who has to live with T1 24/7, 365.  It's about every debilitating low and subtly damaging high.  It's about every missed moment and opportunity that the d-monster robs us of.  In the end, we're all here because we want so badly to find a cure that will make our lives a million times easier and infinitely better, and I feel truly blessed to know so many people who have made it their personal mission to not stop until it happens.


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