By Mandi Franklin
To my late parents:
It was the winter of 1990 and I was spending the week at my aunt and uncle’s house while my parents were chasing sunsets in the Caribbean. I loved sleepovers at their house – we would play “grocery store,” paint my fingernails, and stay up late.
This time was different…
“She’s drinking so much water. She can’t seem to quench her thirst,” my aunt said to my mother when she called to check on me.
I was so thirsty that I would climb on top of the bathroom sink and gulp water from the faucet like a parched cat. My aunt and uncle knew something was wrong.
My parents caught the next flight home and I was rushed to Sinai Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland.
This is when the perfect world we once knew changed for me and my family.
“She has juvenile diabetes and we need to give her insulin,” explained the ER physician to my parents. Imagine hearing that your little, previously healthy 3-year-old now has a permanent disease that will need to be managed with multiple fingersticks and numerous injections daily.
Confused. Angry. Sad. Guilty. Numb. These are things that I am sure my parents felt at this moment.
Over the next few days, we learned how to cope with my new life with the help of the medical team, nurses, dietitians, child life specialists, and of course family support.
From that day on, my parents vowed to never treat me differently and promised that I would live a “normal” childhood.
Looking back, I admire them for how they tackled this diagnosis and disease. I never felt like I couldn’t do something due to my illness. I was able to dance, play sports, go on vacations, and have sleepovers.
I have been living with type 1 diabetes for 29 years. There are days when I want to throw in the towel and say “OK diabetes, you win.” The other days are just like yours, except with a few extra pokes and a special ability to count carbohydrates.
My parents taught me to live my life and never let my disease get in the way. Because of this, I do what I love and continue to chase my dreams.
In conclusion, don’t ever give up.
Thank you, mom and dad, for raising me to be a strong, independent, resilient, goal-crusher who just happens to also have type 1 diabetes.
Love you always,
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