“We think a lot about the physical component of diabetes, but the mental component is just as significant.” Emotions! As a mother I try to stay as positive as I can! I feel like I set the tone for the mood for the family, so if I’m strong, maybe everyone else will follow my lead.
The first year after Joey was diagnosed was an emotional roller coaster. You have to tell everyone important in your life from friends to teachers to people you don’t even know that are staring at you as you test your child’s blood sugar. You become a nurse and teacher overnight. Sleep deprivation comes on real strong! Along with no sleep comes mood swings, we’ve all experienced those! But we try to stay positive for Joey.
When Joey was diagnosed I stayed completely upbeat and positive – I had to.
Joey remembered when his little nephew Cooper was diagnosed. We almost lost Cooper! He spent 4 nights in the NICU at Children’s Hospital as his blood sugar was over 1000, and he was only 22 months old. His little body was shutting down, and we were all scared to death. So it wasn’t a surprise that Joey was worried about what might happen to him, he was only 8 years old when he was diagnosed. Thankfully he never had to be hospitalized at the onset of his diagnosis, but that didn’t stop him (us) from worrying!
I’ll never forget when he asked me if I knew how to take care of him with type 1 diabetes! It broke my heart! I assured him that I would make sure I knew exactly what to do to keep him healthy and safe. Of course I was scared to death myself! I would cry while driving, or showering! But I never let him see me cry!
We took our fears, and became fearless! Joey wanted to make a difference in the diabetes community. Together we went in front of Lawmakers at our State Capitol and asked them to keep funding for diabetes in our state.
Before we knew it Joey was asked to be the American Diabetes Association’s Youth Ambassador for the State of Wisconsin. He spoke in front of hundreds of people, at age 12! He was featured in many magazine articles, our local TV stations interviewed him about a teenager who loves sports, and overcomes the obstacle of type 1 diabetes while he plays. As the Youth Ambassador, his platform was to be yourself, don’t be afraid to let your friends know that you have type 1 diabetes. If they don’t like you because of it, then they aren’t worthy of your friendship.
He received an award from the head of the Endocrine department for his outstanding work in the community! We are so proud of him! He really went from fearful to fearless! He’s now a freshmen in high school who plays football, basketball, track, snowboards and doesn’t let fear get in his way of living his life.