Artist: Brendan Eskridge, 10
Age at diagnosis: 9
Title: T1D Hockey
“This is about me wanting to get into the NHL but when T1D hit me, it was like I was getting cross checked. Max Domi inspires me to achieve my NHL goal.”
I wrote this book through the lens of an adult Diabetic Warrior (DW) relying on other adult Warriors, Diabetic or not. Through this writing process, and exploring the lives and art of young T1D artists, I was reminded that young DWs rely on their fellow Warriors, too.
I received the above image from a mom whose son was diagnosed with T1D after suffering the teasing of hockey teammates for his excessive water drinking and bathroom breaks. Teasing that switched to support as his reality became clear. Now, the ribbing has become encouragement. The whole team is learning lessons on how to live together and on how to collaborate.
We think that children should not be Warriors, period. We think they should be able to grow and explore unfettered by real pain and hardship. We want their struggles, if any, to be manageable and controlled.
Sometimes, our fears get the best of us. Images form of our babies stumbling through a hostile forest, lost and alone. It terrifies us. While we struggle with these worries, we must remember neither we nor our kids are alone in the woods.
Let's remember what the enemy really is. It's not people. It's things. It's our choices.
We don’t want our children to face struggle, but they do. Along with beauty, life is filled with struggle: walking, learning, growing up and old. Some kids jump from Warrior to Diabetic Warrior within months or even days of their very first breaths. If we go back to our Warrior and forest metaphors, we shouldn’t be surprised that reality is rough for our kids. There’s no magic net protecting the tender sapling in the forest until it reaches a certain size. There’s no safety lock for Warriors in the field that will ensure they get through the barrages that life shoots out, unscathed. There are no guarantees.
But we do have each other.
This boy’s teammates became better teammates because of his diabetes. We can become better teammates to each other- better Warriors to each other- by acknowledging and understanding one another’s strengths and weaknesses. By working together, whether we want to or not. By never taking each other for granted. By commending each other in our successes and lifting each other up in our failures.
How can I be a better teammate? Do I have enough teammates? Do I rely on them as I should?