Growing up with a brother who requires a lot of attention was quite challenging. My youngest brother Hunter was 2 years old when he was first diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. It was hard to understand why my life went from shared attention to a lot of attention on my brother. Through maturing and understanding what exactly Hunter was going through, I learned to become a more empathetic person, and this influenced many of the decisions I made growing up and had an impact on my future.
In the early months of 2006, I was a 4-year-old girl with not a care in the world. My parents adored me, I had the most amazing dolls to play with, and everything felt perfect. However, all of this felt like it changed when my parents took my brother to the hospital and found out he was a Type 1 diabetic. This type of diabetes is a chronic condition where the pancreas does not produce enough or any insulin which is used to break down sugars. Essentially my brother had an allergy to sugary foods like candy and other kinds of desserts. Type 1 diabetes runs on my dad’s side of the family, my grandpa and great uncle both had it and now my brother did too.
Since my brother was only 2 when this occurred, my parents had to help a lot with all his needs. They would have to prick his fingers multiple times a day to test his blood sugars and give him shots of insulin when he was low on it. All of this craziness happening right in front of my little eyes and I had no idea what was going on. From my perspective it seemed like my brother was getting all this attention and I felt like my parents did not even care about me (which was obviously not the case but what four-year-old wouldn’t think that). I started to resent my brother because I felt that my parents loved Hunter more than they loved me. I felt so upset and jealous, but it was not until I started to age that I realized the needs his condition came with and why my parents needed to tend to him so often.
As I started to grow up, my parents would tell me more about why Hunter is always getting his fingers pricked, getting shots before meals, and drinking so much apple juice. I remember a particular incident where he was having trouble getting his blood sugar to go up one night and he was low all night long. I vividly remember him and my parents getting no sleep trying to take care of him and I began to sympathize. I knew he did not want to be up all night drinking juice and eating cookies to raise his sugars and he didn’t want to be so taken care of. He just wanted to have a normal night’s sleep like any other typical kid. He did not want the attention, he needed it. Hunter needed my parents to help him because he was so young and was not able to tend to himself yet. My parents also would explain to me why they were so worried about Hunter and it was because it was a new diagnosis they did not know how to handle, and they wanted to pay extra attention to him to make sure nothing bad happens to him.
Through watching what my brother has been going throughchanged who I was as a person. I realized I had to understand what people were going through before making any judgements. I have become a much more empathetic person than I had been when I was younger. Empathy is the ability to understand what a person is feeling. I vowed to myself that I would always try and understand what other people were going through which helped me choose the career path I want to go down. Through becoming more empathetic I realized I wanted to help people in any way I can and that’s when I decided I wanted to be a teacher.
I am so fortunate to have grown up the way I did because without that I would not have been the person I am today. Without being able to understand what my brother was going through; I would not have been the person I am today. Learning to empathize with others and understand the situations they are going through allowed me to find the profession of my dreams and I couldn’t be more excited to see what the future holds.