Until January 18th, 2010 we were a pretty typical family. Philippe and I were proud parents of Jacob, our 3 and half year old, and our four-legged “kids” Bella and Charli. Our hands were completely full… or so we thought!
On that same winter day Jacob was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and our world seemed to collapse. Until that point I had absolutely no idea what diabetes even was. After spending a week in the hospital learning all there was to learn about the chronic illness we went back home with our heads full of knowledge and a bag full of needles, insulin, and books.
I hit a dark spot after diagnosis. I had a hard time coming to terms with the fact that there was no cure for the disease and that my sweet little boy would have to stick a needle into his body 4 to 5 times a day just to stay alive. Thankfully, Jacob was very reasonable and cooperative in the face of this new journey. He inspired me every day!
Six months after the initial diagnosis, our doctor, who is a genius with kids, suggested we get Jacob an insulin pump and another new adventure began! By that time I was hopeful for a greater life for our son. In August of 2010 the big day came and Jacob received his new pump.
At first was thrilled at the thought of no more injections, and that eating finally would not be painful. It was great!
A couple of weeks went by and suddenly I noticed Jacob would hide his pump under his shirt and was shy to show it to anyone. I had no idea why. I laid down that night in his bed, running my fingers through his hair and that’s when he asked, “Am I the only one in the world with an insulin pump?”
My heart was crunched! “No baby”, I said, “You’re not the only one! Millions of people all around the world wear insulin pumps!”
Since he didn’t know any other T1’s he felt alone and different. I explained to him that to be different was ok. In fact we were all different in one way or another! He had friends who wore glasses, who were in wheelchairs, whose heads had unusual shapes, and some had blue eyes! All of our differences made us unique and special! For a four year old at the time the principle of uniqueness did not hit home. All he wanted was to blend in and be like everyone else.
Broken hearted, I had to find a way to make our son feel better. That’s when I came up with the idea of getting an insulin pump tattoo. Phil thought it was a great idea so we headed out to the tattoo shop 8 hours away from our hometown. I had always wanted a meaningful tattoo but never dreamed it could make a difference in someone’s life, let alone in my own son’s life.
You should have seen the look on his face when we first lifted our shirts! His smile, the stars in his eyes were priceless!
This tattoo is not just an insulin pump. It represents the love and commitment we have for our child. It’s a way let him know that he will never be alone; that we are all in this together.
From that point on, when he was ask about his pump he would show it proudly and would also lift up our shirts and say, “Look! My mom and dad have one too!”
Some have asked, “What happens when the technology changes or if a cure is discovered? You will be stuck with an pump on your abdomen!”
I just say to them that I hope the technology evolves and that a cure is someday found! This tattoo also represents a time in our lives, a chapter in our own book of life, and if it takes getting inked just to make my sweet little boy feel happier so be it! I would do it all over again. My son’s happiness is worth every bit of pain we endured.
Jacob is now 6, in first grade, has a lot of friends, and loves being a kid just like all the others, pump included!
By Camille Boivin