February 2nd, 2012. The day my then 11-year old daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. Excuse my language, but: shit.
This diagnosis stole a lot from us: it stole my precious girl’s chance at a “normal” youth, it stole her sense of security, it stole countless hours of time and energy, and it stole our safety, the ease of our daily life. It deprived us of a whole lot of sleep and fun and joy.
But it also stole our ignorance and showed us a massive problem that exists for people who face big health challenges. And after that day and many more days to follow thereafter, we never took anything for granted, again.
But what it didn’t steal was our hope, our ability to adapt and learn whatever we could learn from the journey that this turn of events would take us on.
It deepened our determination, our personal growth, and our ascent into an entire world of health information and community we may never have stumbled upon had we not had to face this massive challenge. It introduced us to a whole world of amazing, brilliant minds already doing the work of caring for families like mine.
It tore us apart, then put us back together.
We have spent our fair share of time in waiting rooms trying to find someone to listen and collaborate with us, to find answers to the many questions we had, but most times came away feeling confused, frustrated, scared, and disempowered by the care we were receiving.
You see, it is not that there is no one who can help, but the people we were encountering were either trained to deal with acute illness, they didn’t have the time it would take to educate, empower, and support us, or they simply didn’t know how to help.
We knew there were people out there that could help, but they were not in our community, and we had to spend countless hours of our precious time building a healthcare team, time we could have been spending getting started on some serious healing, time that my children spent losing hope while I had to keep whatever flicker I could see in them going.
We had no one who could really put it all together or even help us to put it all together, ourselves. In fact, I was given the opposite of what I needed more times than not: I was actually discouraged from taking our health into my own hands.
I was told to stop looking; I met resistance, suspicion, and annoyance when I asked questions, was told to get off of Dr. Google, was told that changing our diet was “crazy” (and I quote), that all there was to do was count carbs and hope for the best and that things like gut health, glycemic index, and hormonal imbalance had nothing to do with the status of my daughter’s health. Stuff I know now to be total and utter bunk. And I said, “Um…no. I don’t think so.”
I have been confused about what to do about my family’s healthcare needs and what to do to make us better.
I have been frustrated with the lack of time or the resistance we have encountered by the healthcare professionals we could access.
I have been so afraid at times that I would not be able to do it all and come out intact or that I would fail her and the rest of my children while I promised them that we’d all be OK, until I empowered myself by getting better informed and seeking out other people with whom we could walk this journey.
I hit the ground running and found professionals out there who could help. I found out where they were, joined forces with them, learned from them, studied and researched and pieced together my own answers, most of them coming out of leads from other parents like me; all the while the clock ticked on my daughter’s “honeymoon period.”
I felt like I was lost weaving in and out of rides and anonymous people at a loud and overwhelming amusement park, while the song “4 Minutes” blared through the speakers: “I’ve only got 4 minutes to save the world!” I played the gameshow “Chopped” at every meal trying to get something nutritious on the table made from scratch, and felt I was in the old TV show “The Twilight Zone” in the wee hours of the morning when I woke disoriented with panic attacks.
Unfortunately, our experience is not unique.
In fact, with the way we live these days, with the barrage of stressors our families face that did not exist before, and the, dare I say, epidemic number of childhood illnesses that are being diagnosed every second of the day, our experience is becoming more and more common. These types of struggles and having a child with some kind of diagnosis or another is becoming our new normal.
Everyone is overweight. Everyone is tired. Everyone is sick in some way. That’s just normal, right?
But what I know about health, what our family’s experience and my training and research and work has taught me is to question our new normal. To not lay down and accept the substandard state of our care and health status, and take control of our health. I know we can make health easier, again.
I know we can do better. I want to do better.
And as the innovative character Bigweld in the Disney movie Robots says: “see a need, fill a need.”
So, I created this space on the web for families like ours.
I am not excited about this project; excitement is not the word…
I am lit up with a passion so intense that I hop out of the shower to write down the ideas that keep flowing into me, keep a pen in my hair at all times in case something comes to me that I just have to add or investigate, and get up every day with new solutions and ideas and services I want to offer to parents looking for answers and support!
My mission is to eliminate every single barrier families have in obtaining better health.
It is true what they say about the power of a mother: she could lift a car if it threatened to harm her child. That is the power I have put into The Healthy Family Formula, and I want every parent to feel that power, too.