Fear is a terrible thing. It blocks, prevents, withholds. Strangely, it simultaneously drains my energy. For too long I have let my fear take charge.
When Grasshopper was born I had great plans of getting him into swimming lessons very early. I looked into Infant Swimming Resource classes, and was encouraged about the results. However, at that time the nearest was about 45 minutes away. Grasshopper had awful reflux and would scream constantly through any car trip. He once screamed for three hours straight during a trip to the beach. I just couldn’t do an hour and a half round trip every day with a baby screaming in pain for a 10 minute swimming class. I decided to wait until he was a little older and I could find a class closer to us.
Fast forward to 21 months and we were hit with a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes on December 27, 2013. By the next summer, with 6 months under our belts, I was just beginning to get my feet under me and understanding how to help Grasshopper when he exerted himself. Cue hot weather, outside playtime, long summer days and swimming, all of which make blood sugar management more difficult than usual. Summertime activities can easily bring a lot of scary low blood sugar events. Cue me paraphrasing Marlin in Finding Nemo. “Now, what’s the one thing we have to remember about life?” “It’s not safe.”
Interestingly, Finding Nemo and Frozen were both inspired by people living with type 1 diabetes. Pixar co-founder John Lasseter’s son was diagnosed with T1D at the age of nine.
The thing is, I wasn’t always like this. For me summer WAS the pool. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t know how to swim. I am grateful to my parents, and especially my mom, for introducing me to the water early and getting me into lessons. I loved the year to year progression from swim lessons, to helping with swim lessons, to being certified as a lifeguard, to working as a lifeguard through high school and college. I am not afraid of the water. I relish it. I thought I could easily teach my own children how to swim. Yeah, that didn’t work out. For the next two years I tried to teach Grasshopper what to do while also trying not to completely freak out about his blood sugar dropping suddenly from all the exertion of swimming. That didn’t work out either. When Sunshine came along if we went to the pool I had two non-swimmers clinging to me like soggy koalas, plus I had to manage Grasshopper’s blood sugar. I was a basket case. Last summer we only used our neighborhood pool 3 times.
I resolved to get some help. Friends recommended SwimPrep LLC. Jeffery Nichols teaches aquatic survival skills that enable children to independently get themselves to safety in the water. He teaches infants, toddlers, and children how to float, swim, float until they can reach the side of the pool to pull themselves out or until someone is able to reach them.
Grasshopper and Sunshine started a six week series of one-on-one swimming lessons in February and finished in March. They immediately went into group swimming lessons from April through May to continue working on the skills they learned. It was intense but they did well and I am so relieved! Jeffrey was so patient but firm with them. He is literally saving lives through his swimming classes. Since the lessons we have seen some wonderful changes in both Grasshopper and Sunshine. Washing hair is no longer a traumatic event. Water in their eyes or ears is no longer is a cause for banshee wailing. They are having fun in the pool with friends and cousins instead of clinging to the wall. And I am confident in their abilities so I am able to play with them instead of micromanaging all the circumstances. Of course I still have to be alert for low blood sugar issues but that is just a part of life now. SwimPrep LLC has changed our family for the better and has made summer fun again!
During Grasshopper’s last days of swim lessons he was talking to another swimmer, an older girl. Out of the blue said, “I have type 1 diabetes.” And then with a shrug, “You can ask me anything about it.” I did a fist pump for him and for me. Here’s to learning new skills and gaining confidence!
What fears about T1D have you overcome or want to overcome?