This week our awesome Berks T1D Connection local support group dug into "caregiver concerns." What a great topic!
We had a full house of parents, grandparents, and friends of our type 1s and it is amazing how when you walk into a room with this group you instantly all become family. There is something about living the day-to-day of a 24/7 "disease" (and I put that in quotes because I really do hate that word!) that bonds people together.
There were really universal issues discussed.
Babysitting. It is difficult for parents of T1D kids to get away because there are not many out there that know how to care for a T1D child, or many willing to learn and take on that responsibility. Family members are often willing but have a good deal of anxiety over the responsibility. Understandable. But so goes our lives. We need to keep going and power through the fear.
One of the projects our new organization would like to work on would be to step up educational efforts. Berks T1D Connection not only wants to raise T1D awareness in our community, but we would love to offer educational support for our T1D families and extended support systems. The goal would be to build stronger foundations for the family units.
Perceptions of others. The thoughts of others impact our T1D kids and us as parents every day. Even adults living with T1D live with the perceptions of "oh, I'm sorry, should I not eat this in front of you?" And in my opinion, this is a really hard one. They don't know. I am sure before my life became the life of a T1D parent, I would have had no clue what type 1 diabetes was, what it meant to have it, what a type 1 diabetic could or could not eat, etc. Not that it makes it any easier for a Type 1 who has someone who hides from them to eat goodies.
So, another goal of Berks T1D Connection will be to increase public awareness. Yes, we are a small start-up non-profit organization, but we have passion and our goal is to make a difference in our community and with social media we believe there is nothing we can't accomplish :-)
But the cool thing about this support group was it gave the family members that don't deal with the T1D on a daily basis to ask questions of the group. Questions as simple as "how many times per day do you test?" Our caregivers are a part of who we are as a Type 1 family. They help us in ways they don't even understand. And a caregiver can even be a friend or a roommate that knows the symptoms of highs and lows and will watch out for our T1Ds for us when we can't be there. We are, in fact, one big Type 1 Village and we are thankful for all of our Type 1s and our caregivers (or Type Awesome(s) as I would like to call them!)
We even have some AMAZING teens in our group. I think they are the coolest people sitting in the room. I can't wait to hear more about their insights moving forward!
My lesson for the day? There is definitely a reason that birds of a feather flock together... because it is AWESOME!!! We have all found a way to find collective strength simply by being together. And we WILL make a difference in our community.