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Getting Inked: One Family’s Lifelong Display of Solidarity

By Amanda Sheldon

Managing Editor

Posted:  9/8/2011 12:00 AM

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It’s not every day that you get to work and find the headline “Medtronic: You Need to Call These People” in your Google alerts. But that’s what happened earlier this summer when the lovely Kerri Sparling of Six Until Me posted a photo submission from Camille Boivin. The photo shows off Camille and husband Philippe’s tattoos of Medtronic insulin pumps on their stomachs. You read that right – tattoos of insulin pumps! The reason? To show solidarity with their little boy who felt like he was the only one in the world wearing a pump. Talk about the commitment of D-parents! Of course, we had to reach out and hear more about the Boivin family’s decision to get inked. Today, Camille kindly shares her family’s story with us.

Having to watch your child fight this illness day and night makes it easy to see the negative side of it, but there are also some positive outcomes to T1 diabetes in our lives. Today, I would like to bring solidarity and compassion to your attention. To this day, I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed as much support and understanding as I’ve seen in the T1 community, whether it is coming from the DOC, online forums, T1 Blogs or even Facebook groups.

At the age of 4 (about 8 months after his diagnosis), our son Jacob started using a Medtronic insulin pump. It was brand new with a cool jelly bean skin on it, but needless to say, he was still feeling all alone on his diabetes planet! I guess not having many T1 children in our hometown and surrounding area didn’t help. Even if he loved wearing his pump, I could tell he felt like an outcast, different from all the other kids. Sure enough, one day he came to me and said “Mom, why can’t I be like the other kids? Am I the only one in the entire world wearing a pump?” 

That broke my heart! I tried to explain to him that all kids had their own differences.  That Kellyann had a surgery to resize one of her ears, Noah wears an ear piece to help him hear, Edward can’t eat fish, nuts or even drink milk because of his allergies, other kids wear glasses or move around in wheel chairs. Then I told him that we all have our own differences – that’s what makes us all the same!

After that conversation, I turned to my husband Philippe and said “We have to do something, we need to find a solution so Jacob doesn’t feel so alone!”  It was at that moment the idea of a tattoo emerged!

Diabetes does not define who we are but it is definitely a part of our lives. As long as Phil and I walk this earth we will do everything in our power to make sure our sweet little boy thrives and becomes the best human being he can be. This tattoo symbolizes the link between us three and it is also a symbol of love, life and hope. I am sure every T1 parent has said at one point “I would take his/her illness in a heartbeat if I could!”  Of course it’s impossible, but what is possible is to show compassion, support and LOVE with all your heart!

I strongly believe that the day will come where there will be a cure for all people with diabetes. That day my sweet child will be free along with millions of other people. Even then, Phil and I will proudly wear our pumps for the rest of our days in solidarity with the greatest hero we know!

It is hard to describe how thrilled Jacob was when he saw our pumps for the first time.  All I can tell you is that the feeling we got back from his emotions was bigger than life!  We promised him he would never again be alone in the world to wear a pump. Promise made, promise kept!
 

Comments

Denise Moltzan

Posted on Mon Sep 12 00:27:01 GMT 2011

How incredibly awesome is this story. Lets be honest, I cry at Hallmark commercials, so this really touched my heart. But as a parent I get it, and obviously Jacob's parents do too. Thanks, Medtronic, for being partners with people with chronic diseases, it really makes more than just a clinical difference. Today there may be tubing involved, but stories like these make a spiritual connection with the lives involved.

Lynda Griebrok

Posted on Sat Sep 17 01:39:50 GMT 2011

I am a type 1 diabetic for 58 years. I have been on a pump for almost 2 years. Any suggestions to me reg. a getting a group together in my area to talk and discuss pump issues and life issues around this disease? I live in Hayward California. Thx

Erin

Posted on Mon Sep 19 22:05:00 GMT 2011

@Lynda Good question – face-to-face support can be incredibly helpful! Your local JDRF and ADA chapters can typically point you in the right direction for local meet-ups. Diabetes Sisters is a newer organization that is doing a lot with local get-togethers for women (called PODS). Here are some links to check out

(http://www.jdrf.org/)
(http://www.diabetes.org/)
http://www.diabetessisters.org/events/podsmeetups

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