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Sibling Care: How much is too much?

Today my first baby turns 17!! SEVENTEEN....seems like yesterday she was born. She has learned J.J.'s diabetes through watching us, asking questions, and being willing to be an active part of J.J.'s care. Not all siblings would be as active as she is. I realize that, and thus I realize what a humongous blessing she (and her other sisters) are to us. But I question.....how much is too much? When is the weight of this disease too much for a 17 year old to carry....when she isn't the one with the disease? How much can we put on her shoulders?

I definitely had these questions the weekend Jason and I were able to get away. SHE was THE reason we were able to go. The first 24 hrs went smoothly. We had constant contact with her and answered any diabetes care questions over the phone. We were less than an hour away, so we knew we could be home at anytime to fully take over if she needed us.

The second night, however, is when the care became more difficult. The children were staying at a friends house, but they hadn't stayed there before. J.J. had anxiety issues......shown only by higher BG numbers. But at the time we didn't know what was causing the highs. Unfortunately all of this started right at bedtime!!! The worst time to deal with diabetes highs!!!(or lows for that matter!!)

We could tell the pressure was getting to Jessica. Even though we could guide and direct, she was feeling the weight we feel. She was carrying the burden of waking up every hour to make sure he came down. She was carrying the burden of trying to make sure the infusion site was still attached and the tubing didn't have air bubbles. She was there...not sleeping....tired.....lonely. We were NOT THERE....taking phone calls hourly....awake...tired...scared....wondering..."Do we go pick him up?" "Will he come down?" "This is too much for her.....did we do the right thing?"

Even though Jess was more at ease in the morning, in spite of the fact that she had to continually dose with a syringe throughout the night, my mind still wrestles with......HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH? And even though as I voiced my concerns her reply was, "It's all good Mom. I get a glimpse into what you and Dad have to go through." I still wonder......HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH?

I may never really know the answer to that question....or maybe one day when Jess is older, maybe married with kids.....I'll ask her......WAS IT TOO MUCH FOR YOU? And her reply will be "Yeah, maybe.....just a little."

I finished writing this post when I asked Jess to proofread it. I didn't want to write about her, without her approval. She reads it and chuckles....."Dad asked me the same question this morning when we went to breakfast." SEE....it's on his mind too!!! I then asked her what her answer was. This was the gist of her reply....(or the beginning at least)....

"Yeah, it is hard, but I know that. I also know if I never challenge myself to do hard things I'll never grow. It's in those hard things of life where people grow the most. I also would hate to not do it because of how much it means to you and Dad........"

And this is where it trails off because my mind just couldn't wrap around the maturity I was hearing from her. I interrupted her and said "You are wise beyond your years."

So maybe she's actually given me the answer to the question "How much is too much?" when it comes to siblings caring for their diabetes brother or sister. The answer is "It depends." Depends on the sibling. Diabetes is a hard disease.....whether a sibling is willing to take on the challenge and carry the weight really depends on them, their attitude, their willingness to help, their maturity level etc. It will be different for each sibling.....as I can attest to in this household.....not every sister takes on the same amount of responsibility. Each family has to work it out as best they can. Some may never want to give any responsibility to the siblings....or the siblings may never want the responsibility, some...like us....consider it a privilege to have the extra help.

Thanks Jess.....and thanks Hannah, Sarah, (and sometimes Allison).... for helping us manage J.J.'s diabetes. You are a huge blessing to us!!! We love you!!!

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