By Maryam Elarbi | August 2, 2012 12:57 pm
I spend a lot of my time talking about diabetes from my point of view or from the point of view of other people I know who have diabetes. Not that that’s at all unexpected or out of the ordinary, but I wanted to take this post to write about the siblings of those who have diabetes. (I know in my last post I was a bit harsh on the self-proclaimed “Type 1 1/2 diabetic,” but that was a very specific scenario where I had some pretty intense feelings on the situation.)
One thing that the Children with Diabetes (CWD) conferences put a lot of emphasis on is siblings. There are sessions specifically for siblings, and I’m really proud to say that my twin brother Zakariyya and one of my best friends Austin both lead a lot of those sessions, especially at the massive Friends for Life conference. I haven’t had the opportunity to listen in on any sibling sessions, as obviously these are meant for siblings and not me. However, some of the things I’ve heard about those sessions have astonished me and made me so grateful for the amazing sibling that I have.
For example, I learned that some siblings are very jealous of their brothers and sisters with diabetes because of all the attention they receive. While it’s a legitimate emotion that I’m sure has a number of factors behind it, I couldn’t (and still can’t) justify that type of thinking. I can’t understand how any sibling wouldn’t be able to rationalize it in his own head. To simply say to themselves, “I’m jealous of the attention he is getting, but I know that it’s only because of the diabetes, so it’s not worth it.” But again, family dynamics vary from family to family, so perhaps I’m oversimplifying the psychology behind it.
At any rate, knowing that my brother is helping to run that session and help other kids put it all in perspective makes me really proud. I’m so grateful because I’ve never experienced a situation with any of my three brothers (one twin, two younger) being upset or jealous because I may have received extra attention. Obviously a majority of all this is due to my parents and the way they balanced everything, but credit is also due to my brothers who have always been helpful.
I can’t even begin to guess how many times I’ve asked my brothers to grab my meter for me from my room, grab me a snack, or get whatever other supply I need at the moment. Granted, on a few occasions there may have been a fair share of huffing and puffing, but in general they do it for me in a heartbeat. It’s easy to say, “Yeah! That’s what they’re supposed to do!” Well, true, it may be, but at the same time, I still appreciate them doing it for me without making it a big deal.
The other day I was driving with Zakariyya, and I wasn’t sure whether my blood glucose was rising or dropping. I knew I wasn’t low because I had checked before leaving the house (don’t drive low people!!), but I felt that something was fluctuating. I asked him to check my blood sugar for me while I was driving, and he was such a pro about it. In fact, I had to ask him to keep pushing harder with the pricker because the lancet wasn’t actually going in. When I told him to keep squeezing out more blood (just in case he had a hard time getting it onto the strip) he shot back with, “Umm, this is a FreeStyle Flash meter. You don’t need all that blood yo.” I was so impressed, shocked, touched, and grateful all in one.
It might not seem like that big of a deal, but it really was. Aside from my parents monitoring, no one has ever really checked my blood sugar for me. Having him do it so efficiently and not wince at the sight of blood and say “OH MY GOD! DOES THAT HURT?!?!” was a much needed reminder that my parents aren’t the only ones that have been in it with me from the beginning.
While my siblings are more like the linesman of a soccer game and my parents like the referees, my brothers are still just as important. (Did I really just make that analogy? I think Euro 2012 is getting to me.) All the little things they’ve done for me add up, and I can’t imagine having diabetes without them around. They’re a huge part of why I have a positive attitude when it comes to diabetes.
I’ll never forget my youngest brother Yaseen exclaiming one year that he was grateful for my diabetes, and that because of it, our family gets to go on fun family vacations and have more fun at theme parks because we can skip lines due to our “Guest Assistance” cards. I mean he was genuinely grateful! Hearing him attribute some of our best family memories to diabetes was another one of those times when it hit me just how much I could never wish away diabetes because of all the good it’s brought into my life.
I really don’t know what my family would be like if I didn’t have diabetes. Through diabetes and the CWD conferences, we’ve changed for the better. It’s an awesome feeling to have entire groups of friends from all over the world who are just as equally excited about seeing me as they are about seeing my brothers and parents. It’s incredible to see how much my brothers have grown over the years, especially when we see friends that we haven’t seen for months at a time.
The latest shock has been our CWD family seeing my brother Abdalla who has quite possibly grown an entire foot since some of them last saw him. I can’t believe my 15-year-old brother is actually taller than me. Is it possible to have a pre-pre-midlife crisis at the tender age of 18 going on 19? (Abdalla, if you’re reading this, you are NOT taller than me!)
Diabetes has definitely tightened us as a family unit, and I am really so grateful for that. Like I’ve said before, diabetes is the greatest blessing in disguise to ever fall upon me and my family.
As they say, everything happens for a reason.
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