Before I start on part two....Sarah, you are so right in the incredible differences between "then" vs. "now". I was diagnosed nearly 24 years ago and the changes are just incredible! Back then, we would have tested our children four times a day, given them a couple of shots and would have expected them to fall into line with the very regimented schedule of a diabetic, regardless of their pint-sized bodies! I'm much happier with how things are now, even if that does include 3:00 a.m. blood glucose checks and random boluses throughout the day!
Reyna, your impression of how things were after I was diagnosed is right on. And it leads right into what I mean by my title tonight. I grew up with a very warped sense of what was normal for a diabetic child. My first sibling to be diagnosed, D, was my mother's favorite child. When she was diagnosed, she got special sugar-free chocolate (I know, fantastic, right? *sarcasm*) and low-sugar Christmas cookies. When C was diagnosed a few months later, they got special Easter treats. When I was diagnosed, my mom insisted that I have an angel food cake for my birthday. I HATED angel food cake. When Halloween rolled around, my mom continued to let us go trick-or-treating. But confiscated our entire bag of candy as soon as we got home (we learned to wear costumes that we could use to hid our favorites in!). After I was diagnosed, every time I got a stomach bug, the flu, anything at all, I was admitted to the hospital. I seriously used to think that was normal for a diabetic child! It wasn't until recently, when Lily was diagnosed and faced her first stomach bug, that I realized how abnormal that was. I don't recall my older sisters being in the hospital nearly as much as I was. I suppose that's because they were older, therefore more mature and more able to take care of themselves during illness. As a d-mom now, I know that I would do anything and everything in my power to keep my child in my care, no matter how sick she gets, unless it's honestly and truly something bigger than what I could safely handle on my own.
I'm really trying hard here to not point fingers and say that my mom was an awful mother. She's not awful, just different. She has some pretty deep scars that I think have played a large part in making her the person that she is and the mother that she was. To give her credit, having five children in five and a half years had to have been pretty hard. Not to mention that the father of those five children was abusive and not very supportive. My mother was remarried and had my half-brother before I reached my second birthday. Around the same time that my sisters and I were diagnosed, my mom's second marriage was falling apart and her father passed away unexpectedly. Just a little more than a year after my diagnosis, our family's home caught fire and we lost just about everything. My mom had quite a bit going on! Even without all of that, I can't imagine how hard it would be to focus any amount of attention on one child when there are always six others around who need something too. I probably don't need to say that I'm not the biggest fan of large families, right? I'm sure other parents do just fine with it and not every large family is the same, but as one of the "forgotten middle children", I can't imagine having a large family myself.
So, honestly, with all that was going on in my family, I don't think diabetes really made it to the forefront of my mind much. And it was kind of an "on the back burner" type of thing back then. You did what you had to do, had a very regimented schedule of when to snack, when to eat a meal, when to test, and when to take insulin. Diabetes just wasn't the same thing that it is now. But the prognosis wasn't as good back then either. People were astounded by diabetics who'd survived having the disease for 30 years. Now, 30 years is nothing! Most of my childhood memories have nothing to do with diabetes. The few I have that involved diabetes at all are those from summer camp and from traveling an hour and a half to get a diabetes check-up every three months. Diabetes didn't really become a problem for me until I hit my teen years. That, I think, I will save for Part III!