NINJABETIC – A letter to my parents
Dear Mum and Dad,
The day I was diagnosed was tough for us all, and I didn’t realise just how tough it would be for you both from there on. You will probably remember it far better than I do; my cloudy memories of those last few moments were spent watching mum cry as I was taken away from you both to be looked after in the hospital. I don’t remember if I said goodbye to you, or if I told you I loved you before I went, but I hope I did.
I have a feeling I was unconscious, or quite close, at that point, and sadly the only thing on my mind was the pain that I was experiencing; my only selfish thought was when it was going to end. One thing I do remember is being confused about why, when I looked at you, you were both black and white and muted, like we were in an old fashioned movie with no sound or subtitles. I wished at that point that it was just been a bad dream and that I would wake up again in our hotel room, ready to go back to the way things were before.
When it came down to it and I needed you, you were always there for me
My next memory was of me smiling as dad walked into the glass fishbowl of a room that I was in, wearing a plastic apron, looking very serious but un-Dad like. I remember the most important thing on my mind at that time wasn’t where I was, what had happened to me, the wires that were attached to me or what would happen next, but I felt that it was very important to tell dad that the reason I hadn’t been doing so well in my Taekwondo classes was because I was very ill, I just hadn’t known about it. I didn’t want you to think I had let you down when you had spent time taking me to classes and competitions. I promise I wasn’t being lazy, Dad, I was just unknowingly, pancreaticly challenged.
What followed from there was, with hindsight, an awful nine years for you both. You knew that I wasn’t taking care of myself in the way that I should have been, and despite you asking, checking and trying to talk to me, I shut you both out for a long time. It’s really sad to think about it, but the reason I did was because I didn’t want to be a burden on you. I could feel how unwell diabetes made me every day and I didn’t want you to take on any of the strain that I was experiencing.
I kept up the strong independent teenager persona for a long time but when it came down to it and I needed you, you were always there for me. You always took me to hospital when I was dangerously unwell, when my mask had slipped and there was no way for me to pretend that everything was ok. You were always there at my bedside holding my hand when blood was taken and I had tears streaming down my face. You held my hair back when I was vomiting and you spoke on my behalf to the nurses and doctors when I was too unwell to do so myself. You took me home and looked after me, you bought me my favourite food when I was well enough to start eating again, you watched over me when I slipped back into my stubborn secretive ways again. You never gave up on me.
Even when I was a terrible teen you always told me that I made you proud and you always encouraged me to get better, and now that I am you continue to keep me on the right path. You helped me through the laser treatment on my eyes, the operations and extra hospital appointments. You taught me what it was to actually be a strong and independent person through your own strength and I got better because of that, not just physically but mentally too.
Even now, aged 31, you are the first people I will go to when I need a helping hand. Two days ago, when I was very ill you were the first people I called to lean on. I frantically tried to get hold of you to tell you that I might need you again and you told me you would stop what you were doing to be there for me. Although I put you both through so much you have never stopped being there for me and I know that one day I will repay the favour.
Diabetes didn’t just change my life that day in 2002, it changed our whole family. I know that it will be a roller coaster ride that never ends but I hope that, after all that has happened, we can start to enjoy it together.