Who is the Milestone For?
Marking the fifteen year milestone, and looking towards a bright future.
By Tom Karlya
September 2006 — September 26, 2007 marks fifteen years since Kaitlyn was diagnosed. On this date, today, she is up to her neck preparing for homecoming. She is a chairperson of the event and has also been nominated for homecoming queen. The outcome is still to be decided. But her win in life has nothing to do with contests. How great it has been to watch her become her own person. But it was not a future I always envisioned
I'm not the type of person who operates under a fatalistic attitude. Even though as a parent you always think that the ultimate tragedy could happen – the worst could happen crossing a street. But I did always feel that diabetes would control Kaitlyn. It did when she was diagnosed at two, so how could I think anything else? Thankfully, I was wrong.
We're truly the luckiest parents on earth when it comes to our children. I'm not about to launch off on what angels they are, because they're not. They're kids who make mistakes, get into trouble from time to time, and talk fresh sometimes. But they get the idea of family and they get the idea of setting goals and reaching for them. It was these same goals where I thought Kaitlyn would be shortchanged. The barriers she would face, I thought, would be too large to overcome. I guess the view was in my eyes, not Kaitlyn's.
There is a woman I know, her name is Kerri. Kerri is soon-to-be -married and she is a dynamo in the diabetes community. She's smart, witty, attractive, and unyielding in her efforts to experience life with diabetes. She has an electric personality that will never be stopped or be sidetracked for one second because of diabetes. It's her attitude that is most appealing and why I mention her. As she talks about her writing, her projects, her job and even her life with her fiance, Chris, all I keep thinking to myself is how I look forward to the day that Kaitlyn has the same successes. I hope success comes to her in the future as they have thus far. I always wonder what Kerri's mom and dad thought as she grew up having diabetes. Did they have the same doubts as I do and how do they feel now that they see her at this time in her life? How proud they must be and trust me, Kerri is a far cry from "settling," judging by what she has accomplished to date. In fact, my estimation is that she's only beginning.
I remember when Kaitlyn was so young that it was so hard for me to think of her as a senior in high school, having everything she has ever set her mind to achieve. Her diabetes has prevented her from nothing and stopped her from nothing. As she says, "I have diabetes, diabetes is not who I am." How true. Now I look ahead. Will she have the successes ahead of her that say, Kerri has achieved? Did Kerri's parents have the same questions when Kerri was in high school, or even when she was younger? I met someone recently who knew about the work Jill and I do in the diabetes community and she has a young daughter with diabetes who knows of Kaitlyn. "I would love my daughter to end up just like Kaitlyn, nothing seems to stop her", she told me. Sigh.
No nothing will stop Kaitlyn. Nothing will stop Kerri. They get older. We get concerned. They move strongly forward. I can't ever fool myself to think that diabetes has been beaten for the long term, but the short term satisfaction as my daughter heads for Stony Brook University next year to pursue her dream of pediatric medicine overwhelms me. Today is a milestone. Fifteen years. To Kaitlyn, it's just Wednesday, three days before homecoming. Isn't that the way it really should be? We love you honey, you amaze us…….every day. I'm a diabetes dad.
dLife's Viewpoints columnists are not all medical experts, but everyday people living with diabetes and sharing their personal experiences, most often at a set point in time. While their method of diabetes management may work for them, everyone is different. Please consult with your diabetes care team before acting on anything you read here to find out what will work best for you.
This past weekend was my STAR TREK group's anniversary picnic. Our hostess was one of our chapter's newer members, though she's definitely a second-generation member (perhaps since birth!) of the larger organization. She's also dealing with a couple of agressive, quality-of-life-limiting autoimmune conditions, at least one of which has been somewhat mitigated by the effect of bariatric surgery. In the relaxed atmosphere of a group picnic, she was able to explain a bit more about...