Nancy Johnson Horn – “The Mama Maven”
When Nancy Johnson Horn’s son was admitted to the pediatric ICU and diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, Nancy felt like her life had been turned upside down. But, Nancy jumped into action mode, finding the best ways to manage her son’s illness and sharing her family’s experiences on her popular blog, The Mama Maven. “If I can be a source of information and help other families who are struggling with Type 1 Diabetes, then I did my job,” said Nancy. In our conversation, Nancy shared how she made the difficult decision to travel to Israel with the JWRP Media Magnets Trip, as well as her inspiring advice for parents of children with chronic illnesses.
Why did you decide to travel to Israel with the Media Magnets?
When I first learned about the Media Magnets Trip, I was amazed. I thought it would be incredible to see Israel alongside so many fantastic powerhouses. I hadn’t traveled to Israel since I was 22 and I was excited to experience it as a parent. But I was also worried about being away from my oldest son, only three months after he was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. My son wears a medical device that tracks his blood sugar and I am able to check it on my phone. So with my husband taking care of our son — and encouraging me to go — and the technology in place for me to check in, I decided to head to Israel and enjoy myself.
How did the Media Magnets Trip impact you?
There were so many pivotal experiences that I continue to think about every day, like visiting Yad Vashem and seeing the Kotel. Standing on Masada was awe-inspiring and listening to David D’Or sing brought tears to my eyes. I also forged new friendships and strengthened others with fantastically supportive women who truly lift each other up. Media Magnets made me appreciate my life at home even more. I realized that I could have this wonderful experience and still miss my family dreadfully. Back home, the memories are still constantly in my mind and continue to color my everyday life.
I’m also planning a family trip to Israel, during which our 13-year-old will celebrate his Bar Mitzvah at the Kotel. It is because of the JWRP that I feel confident about traveling to Israel with my oldest son. My younger son has special needs and I’m excited to take him to some of the places we explored with the Media Magnets, like the Naot Kedumim Nature Preserve and Masada. Also, my daughter wants to be a fashion designer, and Shenkar College, which I learned about during Media Magnets and which specializes in fashion design, is on our itinerary.
How has your son’s diagnosis changed you?
While I live with my son’s diagnosis 24 hours a day, I’ve realized that I don’t need to be miserable. Instead, I need to practice more self-care. During the Media Magnets Trip, I had fun in Israel without feeling guilty. Today, I see friends more often. I take the time to rest. I exercise and eat more healthily. If I’m not healthy, I won’t be able to take care of my family and do the five million things that I need to do each day. Plus, if we don’t take care of ourselves, how can we take care of anyone else?
What’s your advice for parents managing a child’s chronic illness?
Do your research, but don’t do too much googling. Find ways that you can live comfortably and happily. For example, whenever we go someplace, I bring a ton of supplies with me because I need to anticipate that my son’s blood sugar may increase or decrease quickly. Coming prepared makes me feel a lot calmer. Try to stay calm so that your child stays calm. Support them in doing all of the things that they want to do. During our upcoming trip to Israel, I expect my son to hike Masada and float in the Dead Sea just like his siblings — and I will help make that possible.