The thing that happens when the world knows you’re sick

There is this thing that happens when it becomes known that you have a chronic condition. All the communities of which you have ever been a part, no matter how long ago, or how far away you may have drifted, come together, swelling sympathetically to wrap themselves around you. The non stop murmurs for your well being and inquiries about that day’s bio statistics and health measurement units begin to form a permanent part of your life’s soundtrack. They seem to hum the refrain “We love you. We care,” and, “Should you be eating that?”

I hate it.

I hate it. I hate it. I hate it. I hate it. I hate it.I hate it.I hate it.I hate it.I hate it.I hate it.I hate it.I hate it.I hate it.I hate it.I hate it.I hate it.I hate it.I hate it.I hate it.I hate it.

And that’s me being shy about my feelings.

This.

I understand the awkward burden of loving someone who’s got a problem you can never fix. I get it. The helpless verbal hug that first lodges itself in your throat then hurtles out past your lips before you can stop it in an explosive “GOD KNOWS WHAT HE’S DOING!” Or worse. Much, much worse, “IS IT BECAUSE YOU’RE FAT, YOU THINK?”

Then comes the daily inquisition on what your body says your condition is doing to it, how much damage your diet may have done; the subtle inspection of what’s on your plate and in your cup; the pursed lips when they with their limited knowledge deem this item a much poorer choice than another; the slight shake of the head that suggests, “well, it does rather seem she had a hand in her own downfall, no?” The happy hands with their hunks of cake, and the chubby cheeks bulging around all the delicious carbs of the world, not one of which has to be counted, considered or gambled on; simply consumed.

FingerPrick: Be Ye Warned - Pen & Ink Illustration

 

Let me once and for all state that for this “chronicker”, my Diabetes does not render my body communal property. Your invasive questions remain invasive. Your assumption that I wish to serve up daily breakdowns of what my blood work did that day is erroneous. Friends, a chronic condition does not render us immediately incapable of adjusting our lives without your hovering governance. So much can be taken away from us by these lifelong conditions. Freedom of choice, of movement for some; the ability to just get up and go without counting the available units of medication on us; the ability to see pharmacies as places to get last minute greeting cards and perhaps a new body splash instead of places where the pharmacists know us by name, and greet us with smiles ranging from “Hey! Lookin good” to “So lemme just put a rush on that”

You’re judging. Stop playing. We’re diabetic, not dunce.

I miss being able to count trips to the country in days instead of available insulin units. I miss the dignity of being able to gently digest my own food on my own time in a cozy corner somewhere. Instead appearing too drowsy could be a sign! High! Low! Crazy sugar! I miss having doctor’s visits only occasionally, rather than the built -in 3 month loops, unless a crisis mandates I hurry in sooner. I miss having my mom as the only doctor on my speed dial, and having her there simply as mom. Now I have three doctors programmed, ready to save me from whatever my body has tried to to do me without my permission.

Friends, it sucks.

And it does not help to have it assumed that my mental faculties are as faulty as my pancreas. I know you mean well. And to my loved ones, I have no problem volunteering what is happening in my world, health being a natural extension of that. But to the great, wide world in general, be it me or some other ‘lifer’, respect us. Just because we have extra health cards (and bills) doesn’t make us ‘special’. It’s just one of the myriad issues we’re all as people trying to get through.

Respect that this is a crazy life and we’re all trying to get through it together. My largest hurdle right now announces itself in multiple daily injections, and sugar crashes that can leave me barely conscious, trembling and terrified and sugar spikes that leave me drugged and drained. And also terrified. But that’s just a thing one must get through. Like alcoholism, workaholism, chocoholism (which I once also suffered from but clashes with current crisis) and shoe-aholism (which does not).

I am diabetic, not a dufus. Allow me to speak for grown diabetics of the world when I say that we are the ones taking care of ourselves, aware of the carb count, sugar count, calorie count of every morsel we eat; we know what our sugar was 2 hours ago, what it should be in 2 more. We know the warning signs for ‘slow down’ and those for ‘hurry up, you’re about to crash’. We might wish we could shut it up, but our body is in CONSTANT dialogue with our consciousness. CONSTANT.

Sometimes she’s shy. Perhaps a cookie for courage?

Of course you have those who deny the potency of the condition and set themselves up for all kinds of trauma. But this occurs in the obese who don’t stop eating or seek physical intervention, in the alcoholics, the workaholics, the shopaholics or the over-extended who continue to flout the warning signs that beg them to seek help. We’re just people. All of us. We seriously need to find a way to let people … BE.

So if you happen to be near us when we decide to chance a slice of cake, or a cup of juice,  please kindly roll your eyes back into your heads, un-purse your lips and move on. Please allow us to navigate our needled lives in relative dignity. Trust us. Support us. And/or leave us alone. I think those might be pretty much your only possible options.

It’s a hard ride, having any kind of chronic condition. Everyday, there are 5 injections reminding me that crucial parts of the way my body was built are broken. They hurt, they annoy, they keep me grounded in what my body needs from me. I never forget, I never underestimate.

 

The day my doctor told me I was diabetic, I was crushed. After I slowly wrapped my brain around my new life,  and lost the weight and regained control, I researched my considerable risks and still took the plunge and got pregnant again. I was filled with confidence that my new eating and my new body would keep me company through the pregnancy and beyond. Alas, the same thing happened: I dropped all the baby weight, then started packing it on again. Further tests showed that instead of the Type 2 diabetic I thought I was, I’m actually Type 1.

We still haven’t settle on the perfect treatment, so my health can still be up and down, dragging my energy levels and mood along for the rollercoaster ride. What’s weird was that we had found a PERFECT course, and my vitals were flawless-  I had the blood work of a blithe, young non-diabetic. Then in one inexplicable blink, we lost it and have been chasing balance ever since. There are days I get so discouraged and I just want to wave a wand and be healthy (and skinny and rich, while we’re waving wands!) But I can’t. So I micro manage my diet, I try to workout, I take the stairs, park far from the stores I’m heading into, rarely sit down in my classrooms, monitor my body, stay in constant contact with my doctor, nutritionist, close support system and yes…

Yes, darn it. Sometimes I also have cake.

So the next time you see me, sighing blissfully over my dark chocolate sliver of heaven, smile at me if you must, and give me the look. This time, however, let the look say, “I see you, fellow human, figuring out your way over or under your own hurdles. Don’t you worry, fellow human, we’re going get through this life. Bite by bite.”

And if ever I open my eyes long enough to receive said message, I’ll raise a fork and send you one right back: “Right on, fellow human. Right on.”

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One Comment Add yours

  1. keri says:

    Right on, right on. I love your way with words.

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