Friday, September 14, 2012

an ongoing battle

It's funny how life works sometimes.  When I first began thinking about where I would go to college, the University of Tennessee was barely on the radar.  By the time high school graduation arrived, though, I was decked out in orange and Knoxville-bound.  For so many reasons, I know this was the best decision for me.  The University of Tennessee gave me a fabulous four years filled with friends, football, and a little education.  But, most importantly, it gave me Andrew.  My sweet husband, my partner in life, my most undeserved blessing.

Those of you who know Andrew know just how unique he is.  He is filled with positivity.  He gives everyone the benefit of the doubt, reminding me often that each person has hardship in his or her life.  He knows how to balance bravery with caution, and each decision he makes is precisely measured.  He works so hard for our family, and his abiding faith is an inspiration to me.  But he's not all serious.  He is also playful, adventurous and a complete goof-ball.

People are drawn to Andrew.  They are pulled to his service-oriented, positive spirit.  What most don't realize, though, is that many days, most days, are a battle for Andrew.  You see, when he was 15, Andrew was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.  For over fourteen years, his pancreas has not produced the insulin necessary for life.  He wears an insulin pump all day every day.  He pricks his finger to test his blood sugar at least 5 times a day, and every two to three days he has to remove and reattach the very long needle through which his insulin is delivered.  I may have endured a few weeks of shots for B&F, but for Andrew needles are a way of life.  Even more taxing, though, are the highs and lows.  As his blood sugar fluctuates far beyond the range we all experience, his energy and physical well-being are compromised.  Yet he never complains.  Ever.  I have never once heard him gripe about having diabetes.  If he could choose to not be diabetic, of course he would, but he knows that life doesn't work that way. So instead of bemoaning this ongoing battle, he fights back.

Since his diagnosis, Andrew has been actively involved with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), an organization that raises vast amounts of money to fund research to find more advanced treatments of and an eventual cure for type 1 diabetes.  In 2009, Andrew began participating in JDRF's Ride to Cure Diabetes Program.  Through the Ride, Andrew trains and rides an exorbitant number of miles on a bicycle, and our friends and family pledge to support him with their thoughts, prayers and resources.  It's an amazing event that raises both awareness about this disease and millions of dollars that go directly to research.  Andrew rode in 2009 in Sonoma, California (I actually rode that one with him), and in 2010 in Death Valley, California.  After taking a year off for the big birth last fall, he will be back on his bike in November in Tucson, Arizona.  He will attempt to ride 100+ miles to fight back against the disease that takes a daily toll on his life.

To be honest, Andrew is quite nervous about the Ride this year.  We haven't really figured out the logistics...should we all go, should just Andrew go....  We DEFINITELY haven't figured out where he will find the time to train for hours and hours on his bicycle--training with twins in tow is vastly different than in our child-free days.  But the very thing that makes it more difficult this year also makes it oh-so-much more important.  Now Andrew must be healthy, not just for him, but for Barnes and Frances.  The long-term effects of type 1 diabetes can include kidney failure, blindness, nerve damage, amputation, and stroke.  We must do everything possible to minimize these risks for Andrew and for the approximately 3 million other Americans with type 1.  B&F need a healthy dad.  They need a dad who will still be walking when Frances makes her trip down the aisle, a dad who will be able to see Barnes receive his college degree.  This year, we are fighting diabetes not just for Andrew, but for our precious twins.

Each day, 80 new people are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in the U.S.  Diabetes is not caused by anything these people did or didn't do, and there is no cure.  Please consider joining our family and all of them in our fight against this chronic disease.

Click here to learn more about Andrew's Ride to Cure Diabetes.

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