The Invisible Family Member

WRITTEN BY: Michellè Dreeckmeier


What does it mean? What does it even look like?

Usual. Common. Typical. Ordinary. Regular. Day to day. Routine.


I am much aware that the current picture of our family’s “normal” looks very different compared to the picture of normal we lived less than three years ago.

Our “normal” now includes trying to do the job of a failed organ. It also includes blood — lots of it, multiple times a day; needles; vials of liquid hormone (insulin) in the fridge; bloody test strips everywhere; leukotape and plasters; bruised body parts; expensive medical tools and stash; carb-counting; reading and studying nutritional labels; little sleep and wrecked sleeping patterns; tons of math and calculations; schedules and planning; medical apps; a diary displaying carefully planned appointments with a variety of doctors and specialists throughout the year; uncountable trips to the pharmacy; loads of admin and phone calls to the health insurance company, pharmacies, doctors, reps and medical companies; doing a lot of research; and reading medical journals like they are novels.

And somewhere inbetween all of this everyday-life is happening and unfolding, just like it is for everyone else.










In this altered and redefined form of normal, our family of four is now required to do certain parts of marriage, parenting and family-life like we are trained nutritionists, scientists, psychologists and healthcare professionals. In everything that we do Type 1 diabetes is right there with us — an invisible and unseeable family member, however, undeniably conspicuously present.

It is with us when we go to the movies, or out for dinner.

It is with us when we go for a hike, or take a roadtrip.

It is with us when we eat dinner, or play a board game.

It is with us on a quiet and relaxing weekend morning, or when we go the mall.

It is with us when we go on vacation, or when we celebrate a birthday.

It is with us when we go grocery shopping, or when we take the dogs for a walk.

It is with us when homework and studying is happening, or when we visit with friends.

It is with us when we go for a jog, or at the table when we go to the coffee shop.

It is with us in the swimming pool, on a mountain top, on the beach, in the car.

It is with us in our home, day and night.

It never leaves.

We have to cater for its needs and demands. We have to accept its unpredictable personality, which we cannot control. And we have to be ready to boldly and courageously deal with the dark and scary psyche which it likes to flaunt and torment us with sometimes.

How we wish that “divorce” was an option. How we wish that this “forced adoption” could be called off. Heck, how we wish we could sleep again for a change!

But this ‘family member’ is here to stay. And we had to learn to accept its persistant presence and the fact that it is not going anywhere soon.

Acceptance is a hard thing. It is like forgiving. You do it for the sake of your survival and ultimately for your freedom, but you cannot disregard or forget about it. In our case we can’t afford to. Because in this instance, disregard and forgetting about it could be fatal.


We parent with T1D.

We marriage with T1D.

We family with T1D.

We do life with T1D.

Delicately. Purposefully. Beautifully. Joyfully. Boldly. Fearfully. Ordinary. Courageously. Normally. And a little bruised.

This is our normal.

Read more from Michellè Dreeckmeier.

Michellè Dreeckmeier

Michellè is a wife, mother, dance teacher and blogger. She loves her family, the sound of silence, many mugs if good coffee, mountains, fairy lights, and biographies. She and her husband, Hannes, are the proud parents of their two beautiful daughters, Miah Niecke, their 14 year old T1D Princess and Ajani, their 11 year old miracle bundle of joy. Their D-family, two dogs and two lovebirds reside in Pretoria, South Africa. Michellè is a dance educator in the field of classical ballet studies and is a volunteer for T1International. Follow more of her family's T1 journey on Instagram: @family.ing_with_t1d of connect with them on their Facebook page: With T1D.