With the exception of 1 parent, everyone in this image is a type 1 diabetic. Look at all of them. They are happy. Smiling. Holding cute, amazing dogs. They were all gathered together for the Canine Hope For Diabetics 2014 Diabetic Alert Dog Conference at a gorgeous location in the Southern California woods. Perfect weather, lots of friends, dogs, great conversation, activities for the kids and the dogs, training sessions for the dog handlers, discussion groups about diabetes, diabetes technology, animal care and training, it was an amazing weekend. And I captured it all with my camera. So what’s not to love?
Most all of my images show people having fun. Smiling kids. Laughter. Happiness. If an outsider looked through the gallery, would they think this was a serious disease? Would they know that all through the weekend, due to the higher elevations, we had children with blood sugars in the 20’s and 30’s? Does anyone realize that the thing that brings this group together is a potentially life threatening (certainly life altering) disease? That just under the shiny, happy surface, is a potential killer? If you see these pictures and then hear the plea for money donations to fund research, are people less apt to donate? Take us less seriously? Not understand the implications of a life time spent with this horrible disease? Well, here is the truth. My child is among these kids in these images. As are some of my closest friends. And I didn’t know any of these people before our diagnosis 4 years ago. And I have been on the phone listening to the fear of a mom who doesn’t know what to do anymore. I’ve hugged the dad that was at wits end, lack of sleep, with a teenager that was tired of caring and wants to die. I’ve seen the look in a small child’s eye when they first learn their going to spend the rest of their lives as a type 1 diabetic. I know what it feels like to never get more than 5 hours sleep a night, and not in a row. I know what it’s like to live this life. See, there is no “diabetes survivor”. There is no “your diabetes is in remission”. There is just a Tuesday when you don’t know you have it, and then a Wednesday, often spent in an ER, when you are told that you will spend the rest of your life with diabetes. And that life isn’t pretty. There are no congratulatory Hallmark cards.
You see, I could post images like those above all day long. But my posts, and this blog? They aren’t for you. Yes, I do post things to raise awareness. To ask for donations. To seek help to cure this awful disease. But these posts. And my imagery. Are for me. They are therapy. They help me remember that even though my daughter has a disease that can kill her, she is still a kid. And I work my ass off to make sure she can live as normal a life as any other kid. And that life includes fun. Play. Friends. And it damn well better include a shit load of laughter. Because if it doesn’t? Then diabetes wins. And I didn’t come here to lose.
So here are a few more images of people having fun. Diabetics. Parents of diabetics. People that care about diabetics. All of them smiling. Laughing. Enjoying being around people that understand. Winning. Kicking diabetes ass. Am I doing a disservice? You tell me…