I missed writing for Sib of a D-Kid Day a couple of weeks ago. Also, given that I was diagnosed as an adult, I don’t think that I really fit the profile of why the day was conceived. But having an adult sibling diagnosed with a life-long health condition and fitting that into the family dynamic does invite some discussion, I think. How does one sibling suddenly being told they have diabetes impact on other kids, albeit grown up kids, in a family?
I have one sister, Tonya. She’s a couple of years younger than me and is possibly the smartest person I’ve ever known. She’s gorgeous, sassy and caring. She also has a sense of humour on her that can have me in stiches for hours at a time. And, you don’t want to be on the receiving side of her wit – it’s scathing!
She thinks I am extraordinarily bossy (‘Try this on’, ‘Buy that’) and I think she is too. We are very different, but also very much the same about things. I pity any fool who gets on her wrong side.
Even though I am older, Tonya has a feeling of protectiveness about me that is especially prominent when she feels someone has done something to hurt me. And when it comes to me having diabetes.
Lucky for her, she has managed to avoid the dodgy autoimmune issues that plague our mum and me. This makes me feel incredibly glad and like I want to pinch her. Which I wouldn’t do, because I’m a little scared of her at times.
And I think that at times, she may be a little scared of the fact that I have diabetes. She’s never said that to me, but it’s just a general feeling I have.
One night we were having dinner at Marios – a favourite haunt – when I made some throw away comment about her living longer than me because diabetes would shorten my life by 15 years. That was very much the thinking at the time and my comment wasn’t meant to harm in any way. ‘Don’t say that’, she said with a slightly raised voice and her eyes started to fill with tears.
When I have been going through a difficult time of living with diabetes she is incredible. She rallies the troops, puts on her bossy boots and calls me to say things like ‘Right, so I’ve organised dad to sit with the kidlet if Aaron is at a gig so you and I can go for a walk three times a week. OK?’ or ‘I think you need to see your endo. Can you make an appointment tomorrow?’ This is followed up with daily phone calls, text messages, emails, sky-writing messages asking if I have, in fact, made that appointment. If this came from anyone else, I’d want to kill them. But from Tonya, whilst at times annoying, I know it is because this is her way of doing something for me and my diabetes. She may not be able to say ‘I know what you’re going through’, but her actions say ‘I’m here to help’.
She has had to deal with parents who now consider their daughters different to each other in some ways. She knows that they too fear how diabetes will play out in my life and she knows that there have been times that I have really needed them which has meant they probably weren’t there as much for her.
What she really thinks about having a sister, her only sibling, with diabetes is a mystery to me – we’ve never discussed it. But her support and encouragement and bossy ways tell me that she cares. I don’t think there is anything more that I could wish for.