Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Sister/Sister, part 1

When I was diagnosed I vividly remember the pit in my stomach. The feeling that lived there for days. Diabetes. The word just hung in the air. Needles. Blood. Shots. Sugar. Food. Pit. The pit was that sinking feeling you get sometimes, only it remained for some time. I felt as though I were on auto pilot after my diagnosis. Wake up, prick finger, inject, be force fed breakfast, school, snack, school, lunch, school, snack, prick finger, inject, and bed. For awhile my crazy red headed mother would scare the crap out of me and prick my finger at 2am, something I never got used to. My parents were very matter of fact, very confidant, and never shed a tear or acted upset or stressed in front of their 4th grader who had just been dealt a blow of a lifetime. Yet in all this, in these memories following those first few weeks after my diagnosis....I don’t seem to ever remember where my little sister, Emily, was. 5 years my junior, a spark plug sassy pants of a sister, I assure you she was there, BUT WHERE WAS SHE? It’s often made me wonder what it was like for her, being almost 5 years old, and seeing your older sibling come home and having to give herself shots. Seeing your parents dote on her and make special food, what must’ve been going on in her little brain?

Ask our parents and they will surely tell you: if they had birthed my sister first, she would have been an only child. She was the naked baby, running through the house, sticking her fingers in sockets and jumping off of furniture. While I was the one you could set down anywhere, and I would quietly read a book. Emily was the wild child, and I was the book worm that observed everything. Being 5 years apart we had nothing in common. I was blonde haired and blue eyed, Emily dark complected, with big brown eyes and brown hair. As little girls, we might as well have been from different planets.

I used her when I needed to. I remember needing her blood to trick my glucose meter for my appointments with Dr Ponder. She happily complied. I would teach her how to give me insulin shots if I came home too drunk to do it myself. If I threw a big party when our parents left town, I had her serve beers and light cigarettes, making her swear her allegiance and buying her silence with cash and promises of rides to the mall. And then later on she used me. She would come stay with me when I was in college. Where there were no rules or parents or curfews. And this is when our personalities and bond began to grow.

To see us today, you can still see our physical differences. But to hear us, not even my children or our parents can tell us apart. Our mannerisms, humor, gestures and sarcasm are spot on and identical. Even our handwriting is eerily the same. We have worked side by side at diabetes camp, and Emily has cupped her hand over my swollen pregnant belly for entire seasons of Frasier, feeling her nephews move and kick and be assholes inside of me. She was the first one there to hold my sons, besides their father. And to this day, she’s one of only 3 people that can simply look in my direction and say “BRUH! YOURE LOW!”, and bring me a juice box or glucose tabs. She knows to set down the goods and back away, because touching me during a low is a sure fire way to get bit, hit or yelled at.

My sister also sends me snap chats of test strips I leave in her house or driveway. She loaded her car up with $1,000s of dollars worth of diabetes supplies and came running during Hurricane Harvey. She helped me train Diabetes Alert Dogs and puppy raise. It can’t be easy to be the sibling of a type 1, and they get very little recognition, as they are pushed aside and often forgotten. And we’ve absolutely had our differences through the years, called names, thrown things and had a fist fight or two, but she’s handled being a sibling of a type 1 with grace and might. Thank you, Sissy.

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