Aisling’s Story: redefining diabetes
Aisling held out the beaker for more. It had only taken a few minutes to drain it dry, but she was still so thirsty. Her mum looked down at the empty cup in her two-year-old daughter’s hands. All the signs were there. This wasn’t a bed-time delaying tactic. Her perfect little girl had Type 1 diabetes.
They were lucky, in a way. Diagnosed when she was 2, Aisling didn’t know any other world. It wasn’t until she got older that she became conscious of how just different she was. None of her friends had to style an insulin pump and glucose monitor into their outfits. They didn’t have to watch what they ate, or have an adult sit with them at lunch.
It was all so humiliating. Aisling didn’t want to live a life defined by diabetes.
‘Some of the things she used to say, they really worried us. She stopped engaging at the clinic. It was a nightmare. We could be there for hours. She would just cling to me and cry’.
It was a nurse who first suggested Helium Arts. Aisling had always loved making things, and she had to admit – 12 weeks of art workshops did sound like fun.
She was right. From animal masks to t-shirt making and pedal-powered paint machines, Helium took Aisling’s love of art to whole new level. Surrounded by a whole group of potential new friends, every week there were new ideas to try – and a dedicated arts and medical team to keep her safe and happy while she tried them.
‘The staff we so kind and considerate of each child’s needs. They let her be herself in a room of people just like her. It’s like she looked up and realised, ‘I’m not alone’.
Aisling still has the notebook she made. She loves thumbing through the pages and reading the messages from her new friends. She doesn’t miss them though. There isn’t chance! She wants to wear her Helium t-shirt the next time she sees them. It’s her signature piece. The perfect memento of a perfect 12 weeks.
‘I can’t keep that t-shirt clean enough! She was so proud of everything she brought home. She got so much encouragement, she’s really confident now. In herself and her art’.
Secondary school starts in September. Inspired, Aisling’s looking forward to art class the most. She practices at home in the kitchen – her pump clipped to her jeans and a smile on her face. The change is clear to see. Because thanks to Helium, Aisling knows that nothing – not even diabetes – can stop her now.
‘Those 12 weeks with the Helium were just amazing. She’s a happier child. Proud and more confident. You can’t put a price on the change they made in my daughter’s life.’