ho ho ho, merry christmas.....
I don’t remember too much about that year. My grandparents were over for the holidays and we were cooking in this great invention called a microwave because our kitchen was under construction. I do remember that Santa brought me a Barbie “wild stallion,” (an actual horse not a wildly inappropriately named ken doll,) red, white, and blue roller skates, and a make up kit. I was 6 years old and Santa was a God. We have photos of me skating around the house with enough early 80’s make up on to outfit an entire gaggle of models while holding my new horse.
But if you look closer at those photos you’ll see the pink footie pajamas hanging off of my skinny body. Through the rouge and blue eye shadow you’d notice the dark sunken eyes that were so glassy you’d think they were from a china doll. You would not see that I had run down past the Christmas tree and actually drained the water dispenser of our refrigerator and then was sick over and over again. You would see the worry and despair in my mother’s eyes, knowing something was drastically wrong, but was too afraid to do anything about it.
The next day I was in the pediatrician’s office before it opened, Barbie horse in hand. I remember 2 things about that visit with Dr. Eldridge. The blackness on the chemstrip indicating that my blood sugar was well above 400, and my mother crying and asking how long I had to live. I vaguely remember my mother defying the doctor’s orders and taking me home before we went to the hospital. She packed me a bag, her daughter would not be wearing hospital gowns that were for “sick children.”
I remember the sea foam green of the hospital room and the many nurses it took to hold me down to draw blood. I remember having to pee in the “hat” in the toilet and needing to let the nurse know every time I went. I remember family coming to visit, and lots of hushed voices and stifled tears. I remember a largest ginger bread house I’d ever seen, and being told that it was “not for me.” I am still mad that I was not allowed to bring my roller skates.
Our whole world changed that Christmas. Words like chemstrip and lancet were introduced. What I ate and who I played with became common family meeting discussions. I am sure my parents never thought we’d make it through. And most certainly, they never thought Christmas would ever be the same.
They were right, Christmas never was the same. It became less about things and more about family. We took the time to think of all of the things we are so grateful for and recognized the many ways in which we had been blessed.
I consider myself lucky that I was diagnosed at Christmas as it serves as a reminder to me, year after year, to be humbled for the many wonderful things in my life. Every Christmas eve, at our family party, I take a moment to myself to think quietly and remember. I try and renew my commitment to myself to do the best with what I am given. And then in a blink, it’s back to egg nog and talks about family and friends and my memories of diabetes are quietly tucked away in the corner of my heart for another year.
Merry Christmas everyone, I hope this time of year you are able to see through all of your obstacles and pain and remember to celebrate the joy in life.
24 down and many many more to go. I can’t wait to see what they hold.
“celebrate we will, for life is short, but sweet for certain”