Today, going backward by one year, is a day that I’ve saved in my heart for the rest of my life. It’s a sad date because it tells a story, a sad story happened to me, to my family, to my sweet Alice. We were in Beijing, we had just celebrated Alice’s fifth birthday. But in those days she wasn’t herself, she wasn’t that energetic, funny, smart girl that we were used to see. She was thirsty, and skinny, hungry, and sleepy, and what more, oh yes, peeing a lot. My wife and me were suspicious, but we were seeking blindly. Two weeks before we had been in the hospital for a check-up. Then we consulted a psychologist. That day we googled the symptoms, and we rushed to the hospital. Alice was hospitalised with ketoacidosis. We discovered what type 1 diabetes was. We were so ignorant about it. But we would have learnt quickly. Alice was impressive. She accepted all. I don’t know how many pricks her little fingers had to endure. She wanted to watch every single injection, blood withdrawal, blood sugar test, needle, with her impassive, quiet, curious big eyes.
We were into pieces, we hided to weep, we hided to chew, we hided to solace. We thought that every shown weakness had had a bad influence on her upturn. Days passed and she flourished again. This was a relief for us, but in our ignorance we focused on other negative thoughts: diabetes will be forever, she’ll never have an ice cream again, she will go in and out hospitals for the rest of her life, travelling for her will be impossible, and we despaired. Today we know things are slightly different than how we figured out in the emergency room, but when such a boulder slumps on one’s life is not easy to focus on the real problem and leave out the projections of the anxiety.
Alice herself gave us the strength to go on. She had recovered and she turned into the girl we remembered. We started studying how to cope with diabetes in the ordinary life, and after two weeks she was dismissed from the hospital. It was Friday and her VISA was going to expire the next day. We already had a booked flight to Hong Kong. The first trial in the outside world was beginning. On the next Saturday we took that three-hours flight. In Hong Kong we went to Disneyland. Alice really enjoyed. My wife and me didn’t have time for that, we were too much focused in fighting the hypoglycaemias, but seeing her smiling was enough for us.
One year after I’m watching myself of those days and I see him tired, hopeless, defeated. I feel his despair, his anger, his cries.
Time passed and I had to face Alice’s questions and fears. When she was scared by injection made by me, when she realized that shots were forever, when she refused candies from her mate telling “Wǒ bù kěyǐ Wǒ bìngle” that means “ I can’t. I’m sick.”, when she told me “Non voglio essere diversa.” that is “I don’t want to be different.”, when she didn’t want to go to a birthday party.
I didn’t find the answers, not yet. But I’m looking for the way, sometimes gently, sometimes drastically, with highs and lows, as for her blood sugar.
Just today I’ve lost control for her bad mood when receiving injections from me. I hit the wall and my painful hand is remembering me my mistake. I feel guilty because I wasn’t able to speak to her. It’s hard to see my little daughter not yet accepting what happened one year ago. I tried to explain her “insulin is needed for living, as you don’t have it in your body, we can simply put inside with this little shot”, but she answered me “Why do you have your own insulin inside you? Why don’t you give me yours?”. If only I could.
But I can’t . So, at least, let’s reload patience and try to be consistent.