Imagine you’re 13 years old and you have Lyme disease. It’s so bad you spend five weeks in the hospital – and can’t sit up or lie down. Then you spend three years bedridden and in a special wheelchair at home and miss out on school.
Yet somehow your spirit hardly wanes and your resolve to help others increases. So while at college, sick again for a year, you teach yourself to crochet and crochet a line of stuffed animals – that you sell on Etsy – each one of which has a disability.
As Rachel Leland, our young woman with Lyme disease and author of Ava Ann Makes Art: The Story of a Rabbitt With Diabetes, says, “So every kid can have an animal who looks like them.”
So why did Rachel, whose Lyme disease recurs when some small health issue brings it on, create a book about a character with type 1 diabetes? One of Rachel’s closest friends’ siblings both have T1D and that inspired her. It seems also Ava’s cuteness and pretty purple dress, made her both the best selling animal in her line and one of her favorites.
In the book, Ava Ann’s teacher asks her pupils to create an art project about their life. This is the premise for the unfolding of finding your strength living with T1D.
If you have a child with diabetes, around six to twelve years old, this is a simple, beautiful and profoundly strengthening way for them to see a brighter side of themself and their life with T1D.
When I told Rachel that I thought she has great resilience to have come through what she has, she told me, “Resiliently Rachel” is the name she likes to use online. It reminds her of how grateful she is for all her blessings, including her Lyme disease. I suspect Ava Ann has Rachel’s heart too, as the strength Ava Ann finds in herself is persistence.
Ava Ann Makes Art is available on Amazon in Kindle and paperback.
Note: Pictures used with permission from the author