Some Kind Of (1)derful: 8 Powerful Stories About Type 1 Diabetes
Life for a Child supports young people living with diabetes in some of the world’s most vulnerable communities. In addition to the story shared below, read more about their work supporting young people like Rwandan sisters Ineza and Rebeka at ToClimbAThousandHills.org.
On the evening of February 13, 2022, Lucia, a member of Beyond Type 1’s international team, attended Some Kind Of (1)derful, an event where stage and screen actors performed eight monologues in English about life with diabetes, each written by Simon Vinnicombe.
The event raised funds for JDRF and Life for a Child. In addition to accelerating and funding type 1 diabetes (T1D) research, JDRF supports children and adults with T1D by offering free online resources and information, holding free events that aim to connect people living with T1D and educating about treatment technologies, among others.
Life for a Child is a program providing life-saving insulin and diabetes management supplies to children and young people in under-resourced communities. Working with local partners in 45 countries, the program supports over 34,000 young people. Their vision statement is: No child should die of diabetes.
Below, hear her takeaways from the event:
The night of February 13th was a special one. Amidst the ongoing pandemic, the Some Kind Of (1)derful event allowed us to gather virtually and celebrate those who relentlessly fight type 1 diabetes.
Stage and screen actors portrayed everyday life with diabetes in eight live performances of heartfelt, powerful monologues written by Simon Vinnicombe, aiming to raise awareness of T1D and raise funds for JDRF and Life for a Child.
Diabetes is not selective. It can show up at your door one day, make itself at home and decide to stay. It will not care about your age, your gender or lifestyle. People with little to no family background of immune disease can get it. Athletes, actors, grandparents, teenagers and newborns can get it. This is why it is important to fight for those without a voice, especially children.
Being able to attend this special event truly moved us. Many of us know what it’s like trying to explain diabetes to people. Hint: It’s hard.
We are the parents who tirelessly fight for their children with diabetes, driven by an unexplainable mixture of resilience and naivete, hoping for the best while thinking we have no idea what we’re doing.
We are the teenagers, afraid that diabetes will obliterate our barely-started social and love life. We’ve heard hurtful comments from ignorant people when they see us inject a bolus or check blood glucose in public.
We’ve tried, many times to no avail, to explain a hypoglycemic event to someone. We’ve seen the youngest, tiniest warriors grab a huge insulin pen with their little hands and inject themselves, while their parents cry their hearts out in hope.
This is diabetes—a scary-yet-wonderful mixture of situations and people and these eight marvelous monologues will show you just what we mean:
- This is not your fault. A young, married couple is driven apart by the devastating type 1 diabetes diagnosis of their four-month-old daughter. While constantly second-guessing themselves and being engulfed by fear and guilt, they finally understand that caring for someone with diabetes is no small feat, that true strength comes from both of them as parents and the only thing they’re guilty of is having a wonderful daughter.
- Be proud of all that you are. Janet, a 78 year-old, 44-year type-1-veteran woman who is still young at heart, faces discrimination after getting her insulin shot on the train. Unlike many of us who may simply shy away, she decides she’s not having it and snaps back with a witty, marvelous response worthy of a standing ovation. Diabetes is something we did not choose and must never be ashamed of. This is who we are, and we are damn proud of it.
- You are not alone. Sam is 19 years old, battling to feel accepted for his sexuality whilst dealing with diabetes and depression in a sea of misinformed decisions regarding his treatment. Trying to relieve his mother from the burden of his condition, he turns to lying to keep her away from his doctor’s appointments. After accepting diabetes as part of his life, he recognizes himself as a “work in progress”, taking one day at a time while finally understanding that we need the love and support of others.
- Thank you (and sorry). There’s two sides to every story. On one hand, the unconditional-yet-unspoken love of a mother for her child with diabetes; the restless nights, the constant worrying, the non-stop caring for her. Meanwhile, her daughter sees this as a nuisance, counting the minutes until she can finally leave home. While in college, far away, she realizes that she never truly appreciated her mother’s efforts. Her mother finally says the words she’d choked on for so many years. “I love you”, “thank you” and “sorry”: such simple yet fulfilling and time-sensitive words.
- You are awesome. George is 10, and can’t remember not having type 1. He longs for a cure, sure, but he’s confident that with fundraising and information, it will eventually come. His wishes, however, are down-to-earth for a kid his age: having his first sleepover with friends. Even though he relies on his phone and CGM for blood-glucose-related alerts, he fears that one of those violent, unexpected ups or downs could grab ahold of him while being away from mom and dad. Like many of us, he sure does not enjoy cannulas, sensors and whatnot, but knows that having them is a tremendous privilege and it’s what keeps him determined to keep fighting for everything he wants from life.
- Talk. Ask for help. Share. Trace, like many of us, can’t explain diabetes. Talking about it gets especially hard when she faces someone with little to no knowledge about it, which, let’s be honest, is most people. Lack of information regarding this condition is overwhelming, which makes it hard to cope with her son’s condition and ask herself: “why my son and not somebody else’s?”. Trace struggles to find daycare, given the possible complications her son Charlie’s situation could bring. After swallowing her pride and asking for help, she realizes more people than she’d expect are willing to lend a hand.
- You are amazing. Jackie is 15, has diabetes and a tremendous crush on a local boy. The day after they finally kiss, he complains, in the most offensive way, that she should’ve told him about her condition, as he “does not want to catch it”. Sound familiar? We bet you’ve been through something similar when it comes to diabetes and the appalling lack of information about it. After deciding that she will not take it, Jackie finds out that love may still be out there, just not in the way she had initially imagined.
- Make a difference. In this last monologue, Michael opens up about the life of his son, diagnosed with type 1 diabetes from an early age. Having the true privilege of access to an insulin pump, he managed to grow up into a regular teenager who enjoyed a healthy social life. After a night of partying and drinking that got out of hand, he was admitted to the hospital with DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis) and eventually passed away. This is an especially-relevant subject we should all be informed about, given how many complications from diabetes take their toll in the long run, but not DKA, which can kill fast.
Life for a Child believes that no child should die of diabetes. Find out how you can help support young people living with diabetes in some of the world’s most vulnerable communities on their website.