It was my brother Chad’s second birthday in January 1970. His “present” was a trip to the hospital; as he slipped into an undiagnosed diabetic coma.
When he came home from the hospital – my parents had to collect urine for testing by wringing out diapers into a test tube. This added to the ups and downs of life in the seventies – adjusting insulin and caring for a baby who had diabetes.
My Mom and Dad were inspired to form a local chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation; back in the 70’s it was known as JDF. Little did they know how long they would have to struggle to care for my brother – attempting to share equal time and attention with me – and volunteer to support diabetes research in search of a cure.
Chad’s doctor said “treat him as a boy first – then as a child who has diabetes”. Following this advice, Chad was raised to be “all boy”. He played little league, soccer and then discovered BMX racing. His love of biking evolved from BMX to road and mountain biking. He has ridden in the Death Valley Ride to Cure Diabetes Century six times (with my Dad riding too) and he will be riding in the 2009 JDRF Killington VT Ride to Cure Diabetes with Dad as well.
In 2007, Chad placed 2nd in the United States National Mountain Bike competition in his amateur slalom class at Mount Snow in Vermont.
He has never let diabetes stop him from any challenge. But his biggest challenge was in supporting me and that’s why I call him my “Amazing” inspiration.
You see – when I was 25 years old – my family noticed that I was showing the “signs” of diabetes. So I went for blood tests, and my blood glucose was OVER 1,000. I was immediately admitted to the ICU and I was scared to death.
I have to admit – as the older sister – I always felt that my baby brother got more attention than I did. Suddenly I came to realize how scared he must’ve been. I understood that he needed support from my parents and from me. And now “I” needed support.
I not only got support – I got inspiration. My baby brother became my BIG brother overnight. He taught me how to test and give myself injections. He helped explain adjusting insulin. We were now “two of a kind”.
A year ago he took me one step further and inspired me to convert to using an insulin pump. I was scared and nervous again, but I knew my BIG baby brother would support me through this change.
Sometimes when we talk about dealing with diabetes, we kid our parents that “they don’t understand”. But we know they do; because they have worked so hard to help support JDRF for over 34 years.
So that’s my story…. about my baby brother Chad who faced diabetes and won – and who inspired and helped me to face diabetes; so I could win.
I am sure we will always “stick together” and NOT just when we “test”, now that I’ve seen diabetes from both sides of the fence.