The Non-Diabetic Sibling

Ashleigh car
Ashleigh – November 2013

It must be hard to be the non-diabetic sibling in a family where things revolve so much around Diabetes. I imagine, for my daughter Ashleigh, these past two months have been a huge mix of emotions as well. Being that she is only four years old, getting her to sit down and talk with me about how she is feeling can be fleeting at times.  It’s hard to remember sometimes, as a family we all have our own connections to Carter and our own feelings regarding his diagnosis.  Ashleigh, as they get older, will bare the brunt of the protecting since they will be in school together.  I try to put myself in her shoes some days, and wonder how she is coping with all this.  It must be especially hard, since she is at an age where she is already leery about sharing attention with Carter anyway, and now that he gets so much attention, albeit the attention involves needles and pricks, I watch her struggle to get attention, be it good or bad.  I involve her as much as I can with all of Carter’s newest needs, and remind her that his world revolves around her, and wanting to be just like her.  Ashleigh was with us the day that we went to the Emergency Room and Carter was diagnosed.  Since he was air lifted to a children’s hospital 70 miles away from our home, once we left the Emergency Room, I dropped her off with one of my sisters.  After the initial scare, Ashleigh didn’t see Carter for two days.  I came and picked her up and the third day of Carter’s hospital stay she spent the whole day at the hospital.  I did what I could to explain what was going on and for the most part she knows that Carter was sick.  I try to keep everything as light as I can, but continue to remind myself that Ashleigh doesn’t understand what is going on and requires not explanations, but attention.  It’s been interesting to get her into the habit of not sharing any food with Carter, and remembering to always clear her plate and drink off the table when she is done with it.  I am so proud of her acceptance and how she takes everything in stride.  Her simplicity of view helps me on the days when I am feeling exceptionally downtrodden.  Some days I choose to view things through Ashleigh’s eyes, to accept the fact that Carter has new needs, and then move past it and continue our day.  All in all, Carter is so lucky to have Ashleigh as an older sister.  Her strength, and tenacity will prove to be a force for Carter, especially on the days when he is fed up with everything he has to go through.  I watch them now, in their young years, and see how their bond has grown stronger.  I watch Ashleigh make sure that Carter is drinking his water, and watching him to make sure he doesn’t need a snack.  I watch her protect him when at the park, and play with him when he’s the youngest one on the playground and no one else will.  I watch her selflessly give up playing with older kids because her brother needs her.  My daughter, though she doesn’t understand all this diagnosis has changed, realizes that in a deeper level her brother just needs her a little bit more.  She wears the title of big sister with pride, and I stand in awe at her capacity to love him, and the tender hearts they both have for each other.  I find comfort in knowing that when Carter does start school, I leave him in good hands, and know that Ashleigh will not only be his best friend, but the best caretaker he will ever have outside of our home.

2 thoughts on “The Non-Diabetic Sibling”

  1. Hi, big squeeze hug to you.
    The sibling thing is hard. I have 2 daughters, the eldest was diagnosed Feb 2012, two months before she turned 6. My youngest was only 3.5 at the time. I don’t often think about those first few weeks, but when I do, it’s not just Amy’s crying that I remember, but her sisters too. She got terribly upset whenever Amy did before shots or other related care. She’s already her sisters biggest advocate 🙂
    Welcome, I look forward to reading more from you.

  2. Hi Marjorie,

    Thank you so much for the words of encouragement, I am so happy to hear of your story with your girls. It’s amazing how children grow closer in times like these. It does warm a mothers heart to watch siblings look out for their siblings.

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