Guest Blog: National Diabetes Awareness Month

Land O’Frost is proud to have a long-lasting relationship with the JDRF. Each year, we participate and sponsor a number of events and activities to support JDRF and their continued research and education for type 1 diabetes. In honor of National Diabetes Awareness Month, we have a guest post from Jessie McGowan, a mother of a child with type 1 diabetes, to share their personal story. Please read her story below and help support awareness by sharing with your friends and family.

Our Story by Jessie McGowan

Corinne-McGowanMy name is Jessie McGowan, and I am the working mother of a child with type 1 diabetes.

I live in Palos Park, Ill. with my husband, Tim, our two older sons, Troy, 22, Brett, 20, and Corinne, 5, and Cole, 4.

Corinne was diagnosed at 15 months old.  She had been getting over a cold that wouldn’t go away.  She was very cranky, showing signs of extreme thirst, and soaking through diapers in a short period of time. Knowing what I know today, this should have screamed “Diabetes!” but it honestly never crossed my mind. Having no family history of type 1 or type 2 diabetes, it didn’t seem like an option.

After a quick check up with our pediatrician, it was obvious to him that Corinne had diabetes. We spent a week at Loyola University Medical Center getting control over her blood sugar and learning about glucose testing and insulin injections.  To say that it was overwhelming would be an understatement. This was a baby – my baby – and she was supposed to be perfectly healthy.

Corinne adjusted quickly.  She was a wonderful motivator for my husband and me to get through the mourning period that comes with the diagnosis of a chronic disease. We plodded along committed to figuring out the unpredictatability of a growing child’s blood glucose levels. Our focus has always been to raise a great kid with diabetes – not a diabetic.  Today she doesn’t know any different than testing 10 times a day and taking 4 injections – she can’t remember not having diabetes.

When we tell people that Corinne has type 1, we see such a range of reactions. “She’s not overweight. “ “Does it run in your family?”  “Oh, so she just stays away from sugar then, right?” I think the worst one is when kids with diabetes are referred to as “diabetics.”  I don’t know, maybe I am too sensitive, but do we refer to people with cancer as the “cancers?” This bothers me less today that it did close to her diagnosis.  Unless you have been personally affected by any kind of diabetes; you’re not going to know much.

JDRF has been a great way to get involved in fundraising and education. I am not a doctor or a scientist so I can’t personally work on a cure. But as a mother driven to find a cure for type 1 diabetes, I can fundraise! Working as Family Team Mentor has been a great way to spread the word and to share what types of fundraising efforts have worked for my family with other families committed to fundraising.  The commitment of these families and the employees of JDRF motivate me daily. I’ll be candid though, I still get anxious when fundraising season hits.  The hard reality is that I cannot expect everyone around me to be as excited by my JDRF fundraising efforts year after year. I get it! It loses some novelty.  But diabetes and fundraising are similar in that they are both a war of attrition; you just have to keep chipping away at it.  And as the mother of a beautiful, spunky and sweet type 1, I’ll never give up.

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month, but for my family every month is Diabetes Awareness Month. The disease is a moving target, and you never have it mastered. That shouldn’t be discouraging to a family dealing with a new a diagnosis; it’s just the expectation you need to have. It’s easy to be brave when you have the sweetest face in the whole world looking at you for the answers. I’ve learned that my “perfect” baby is perfectly imperfect, and I could not ask for more.

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