All I want for Christmas are my islet cells.
December 2006 — Santa sat in his big chair at the Lion's Club Christmas Party. To my seven-year-old eyes, his beard looked like it had been freshly trimmed by Mrs. Claus. His suit was velvety-looking and I could have been convinced that the calluses on his hands were from working hard in his workshop all winter long, making toys. Red suit, rosy cheeks, and a twinkle in his eye that was straight from a story book, he was the quintessential Santa Claus.
I had my suspicions that he might not be the real Santa Claus. I had heard rumors on the bus that Santa was a sham and I shouldn't believe my parents when they talked about him. Still, this guy looked real to me.
I waited in line, along with the other kids. While I was standing there, my mother came over and urged me to test my blood sugar in anticipation of the meal being served after the visit with Santa.
"Yes, now honey. Just give me your finger."
Sighing, I stepped out of line a bit and stuck my hand out of my sleeve, letting my mother draw a blood sample from my fingertip. Kneeling on the floor beside me as I stood in line to see Santa Claus, my mother handed me a cotton ball to blot my finger as she waited 120 seconds for my blood glucose result.
"You're 215. We need to do a quick shot."
"Mom! I can't! I'm two people away from seeing Santa. Can we wait?" I pleaded with her, hoping no one else was noticing as my mother pulled out, from the depths of her purse, the blue zipper case that kept my insulin cold.
She looked at me. She looked at Santa, who had glanced our way as he handed a present to another kid.
I resumed my place in line. Just my little sister left in line before me and then it was my turn.
An elf beckoned to me. I skipped up onto the stage and approached Mr. Claus.
"Hello, little girl!" His Santa-voice boomed out as I hopped up onto his lap. "What's your name?"
His cheeks smiled from underneath his shifting beard.
"Hello to you. What would you like for Christmas, Kerri?"
I had my answer planned.
"I want the Barbie and the Rockers tour van. And some new books, because I've read all the ones I have already. And some sugar-free candy. And a kitten."
He smiled again at me, confused this time. "Ho ho ho … I'll tell my elves what you want. Did you say sugar-free candy?"
"Yeah. I have diabetes." I swung my feet a little from the height of his Santa lap.
"I do. Ask my mom. She takes care of me." Mom and Dad were watching from the buffet line. I waved to them.
Santa's eyes twinkled even more. "You know what? One of my elves has diabetes, too."
"Yes. We have a special stash of candy canes just for him, that don't have any sugar and they taste just as delicious as the regular ones!"
The kids in line were becoming antsy. I knew I only had a few minutes left.
"Santa, I have to tell you something."
He leaned in.
"I'm pretty sure you're not real. I don't think you have elves, either. But just in case I'm wrong, I want to make sure I ask for you to cure diabetes, too. Just in case."
Santa didn't say anything.
I patted his hand reassuringly. "It's okay. But also just in case, I'd really like a kitten, too."
I climbed off his lap and trotted off to my parents. Mom greeted me with a hug and a syringe full of insulin. My father, holding my sister's hand, leaned in and asked, "What did you guys ask for from Santa?"
My sister said she wanted a kitten. I said I wanted a kitten, too. And a kitten showed up at our house for Christmas, all black and white, with tiny claws and big ears. We named him Dippy.
I'm still waiting on that cure.
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.
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