Its probably obvious by the very fact that you’re reading an open blog written by me that I’m very public about having diabetes. I tell people at the gym that I have diabetes, the people I work with, all my friends – shoot, I even tell the grocery store cashier that I have diabetes whenever they ask me why there’s so few carbs on the conveyor belt. I’ll talk to anyone about having diabetes. I’ve also built a life for myself around this disease – my work, my hobby (this blog), and my volunteer work are all about diabetes. Someone asked me the other day if I ever feel like I need a break from living so entrenched in this subject. Looking at my life and the amount of time I spend talking about diabetes, its natural to think I seek respite from this topic occasionally.
But what people don’t know about my public diabetes persona is that in a way, it’s a kind of therapy for me. When I was a teenager and landed myself in the hospital with DKA, it was because I wanted to hide having diabetes. I was embarrassed and ashamed of it – I didn’t want to be different from anyone else so I just ignored it. And sure enough, being the insidious disease the ole ‘betes is, it snuck right up and bit me in the ass.
After being hospitalized, I realized there was a certain power in beating people to the punch. After my DKA and the summer of recovery that followed, I went off to college and told all my new friends and roommates right away that I have diabetes. That way, we could get the questions out of the way right off the bat. Go ahead, make your jokes about “shooting up,” ask me if I ate too much sugar as a kid, question why sometimes I HAVE to have sugar - get all of those stereotypes and questions off your chest and THEN we can have a real conversation about what it means to live with Type 1 diabetes – and a real conversation about the rest of me.
The outward facing attitude about living with diabetes that I adopted in college has stuck with me. I’m more comfortable putting everything out there before someone else does, and so for me, that’s a way that I deal with and compartmentalize having this crazy disease. It’s not for everyone – if someone is more comfortable staying mum about their ‘betes and that works for them then that’s great too. We all have to disclose the level of detail we’re personally comfortable with.
But for me, I like to let you know about the diabetic elephant in the room, and then move on to just being me.
Diabetic elephant….now that’s a scary thought – how much insulin do you think one needs!?