Lauren, left, Emily Lemmon, right.
Mom says sometimes they fight; but we don't believe it from this picture.
Today, our subject is Lauren Lemmon, a 9-year-old fourth grade at Bluffsview Elementary School in Worthington, Ohio. She's been diabetic since she was 3.
I haven't talked to her yet (but will soon and will update accordingly), but from what her mother says and what my daughter Emily tells me, Lauren is pretty cool. My Emily Viall babysits for Lauren and her younger sister, Emily Lemmon, 6, and when I first asked Emily V. what it was like to watch the girls, she said, "They're really funny and goofy and always make me laugh."
So babysitting these nice young ladies is a very nice gig.
I talked to Shawna, Lauren's mom and got a glowing review. Did she have any stories about Lauren getting in trouble, I wondered (after dishing some dirt on Emily V.) and she laughed, "Not really, I've got nothing on her, she's pretty good." Mom had to go back to when Lauren was two and got into the peanut butter and smeared it all over her face and hair and body, sort of making herself into a live art project, I guess you'd have to say.
For the first three years of her young life, Lauren was never sick. Then all in one week mom noticed that Lauren was drinking way more than normal, called the family doctor to describe the problem, and ended up being sent to the hospital immediately. If you have a diabetic child, you know what happens next. When told her little girl had type-1 diabetes, Mom says her "heart stopped." It was Fathers' Day, too, and Emily L. was only ten months old.
So the family had its hands suddenly more than full.
At times, Lauren felt bad, because she felt like she was different from other kids, but now she goes to diabetic camp in summer and that helps. She also knows other type-1 diabetics at her school and in her church group, and has adjusted well. She might say, now and then, "I wish I wasn't diabetic." But she doesn't let it stop her, nor does she let it get her down.
Lauren likes school and likes to read (as an ex-teacher, I can say: that's my kind of kid!). She likes playing outside with her friends, although she's not into sports yet. She does like tennis and swimming and hanging out with grandparents, too. Sometimes they all go skating for fun. Other times they go to the beach at Siesta Key, Florida to relax. Like most sisters, Lauren and Emily get along most of the time, but mom admits, "Sometimes they act like they want to kill each other."
Look at that picture above! NO WAY. These girls must be angelic.
The first year was hard for the family, adjusting to this new reality, living with a threatening disease. But you find out how many other families are dealing with the same problem, and you soon realize "you're not the only one" and it "puts your mind at ease." You never stop worrying entirely, of course, but it gets a little easier and less scary as you go. Lauren went on the pump recently, and has been feeling much better. She and Emily V. even have the same kind of purple pump, which both think is kind of cool.
I asked mom what she wanted for the future for her daughter (and some of this would apply to Emily L., too): She wants her to "find happiness and peace" and "not feel that she's different." Mom wishes she "could take the pain away," wishes she "could take the pain" herself, and "hopes to see a cure."
I've said this before and I'll probably say it again: Riding a bicycle across the United States is nothing compared to being a type-1 diabetic. Frankly, kids like Lauren and Emily V. are a lot tougher than me.
Lauren and Emily Lemmon on first day of fourth and first grade.
Something in their look tells me they'll be good students to have in class.