The first person I met with type 1 diabetes was my almost two year old son. It was Monday December 22, 2008 at 5:30pm. I had lived 29 years of my life without (knowingly) meeting anyone else with the disease. His diagnosis came before we had Google or WebMD at our fingertips. In fact I was so ignorant about diabetes I fed him waffles and maple syrup the next morning before our 8 am appointment with an endocrinologist! We spent eight overwhelming hours in the same hospital our son was born in less than two years prior; receiving a crash course on caring for and managing type 1 diabetes. It was two days before Christmas and I felt anything but merry and bright.
Fast forward five months to a new job, new city, and new church. A woman at church introduced herself to me and said she heard our son has type 1 diabetes. She explained her daughter (age 6) also has had type 1 since age three. That same month I also met a young man (fellow employee) that has been living with type 1 since he was two years old. Not knowing many statistics about type 1 at the time made my context very small. I felt very fortunate to know two others with type 1.
This month I used a black market to keep my kids with type 1 healthy. A black market run by thousands of people with type 1 diabetes. The type 1 community consists of more than the two people in my circle of acquaintances. Thousands of people with type 1 or who have loved ones with type 1 have created a type of black market of unused or surplus diabetes supplies for those unable to obtain them otherwise. Jillian Rippolone is the creator of one of these markets in my state. She saw the original news story about our family purchasing insulin from Canada and she reached out to see if there was anything else we needed. Thanks to her black market and the incredible generosity of others who understand how critical some of these supplies can be to diabetes care, our family was able to get the things insurance has refused to cover. Jillian and her team have given us some breathing room as we continue to petition our insurance for coverage.
How do I even begin to thank a community of strangers that came together to care for the health and well-being of three children they have never met? Words seem inadequate but since I will probably never get to meet all the people that have helped us get to this point, words are all I have to offer.
Thank you for lifting a physical, mental, emotional and financial burden from us as we continue to press on in our new normal. The fight for what we believe our children deserve to manage this disease will continue with less stress thanks to your efforts and generosity.
Thank you Mark and Jillian for encouraging our kids to be brave and try something new today. Meeting two people who are living a full, healthy life while managing diabetes was encouraging to my kids and this momma’s heart.
Thank you Mark (and your team) for the diabetes camp scholarships. I can’t wait for my kids to meet other kids living a similar life and have opportunities they would otherwise not get.
Thank you Joci, Brady, and Cyrus for choosing to do the hard things even when you don’t feel like it. Your bravery and ability to still be kids in the midst of all the extra responsibility you carry will forever be one of my greatest inspirations.