Not everyone reads my blog. As a matter of fact only about ten people in the world do, and I don’t even think my mom is one of those. I hope my husband is. So it’s a very strange thing to realise that although there is a (really, very) tiny corner of the internet where I am a vocal- yet occasionally self loathing- diabetic, in real life, most people still don’t know I am one.
That’s fine. It’s not like it’s a thing that needs to be know up front the way I believe things like, “I hate chocolate” and “I secretly take pictures of the back of your neck” should be. (That last one happened to me in college. True story.) But when I find myself around a certain group of people that, for whatever reason, I realise I’ll be around for some length of time, I find myself wondering if I should let them know what to do if I suddenly slump over or go incoherent.
Doing my Masters degree with the minuscule cohort of We English-French-Spanish Speakers who are interested in a job involving hours of reading, writing and rejection, means 4 days a week locked in heated intellectual battles or shared confusion with the same 9 people for the next two years. I should say something, right? Nah. Wait, yeah. No. Tell. No. Wait… Should I?
This is the mental dosey-do that’s been going on in my head since September o’clock. A week or so ago, I turned up for an exam. I had tested my blood sugar levels about two hours before exam time, and I was fine. A little high, perhaps, but anxiety does that to me. As I readied myself for the start, I noticed a light-headedness. Must be nerves, I reasoned. But wait! Worse light-headedness. “Knowing” that my sugar was fine (because this whole ‘your body is doing crazy things’ sometimes doesn’t stick) I didn’t even think of it, but did wonder in a largely idle fashion if I should mention it to one or two classmates for ‘future reference.’ But wait! It intensified. And the black spots. The racing heart. Could it be? Yes it was. Yes it was. Stupid low blood sugar ambushed me again.
But I didn’t tell anyone. I glucosed-up and rallied. I pulled it off smoothly, I was fine. End story, right?
Bu then you randomly find out that there’s such a thing as World Diabetes Day, and you think to yourself, “Hey- don’t I have a diabetes type blog thingy? Shouldn’t I do something ‘writey’ for that?” But you’re a very busy mommrsmastersmiss, with too many momly, wifely, scholarly and teacherly things to do to spare a moment for such sanctimonious scribblings. So then night before this auspicious day, you hustle off to class, still with your ‘sweet little secret’ touched into your pocket where your insulin is kept. Except your insulin isn’t in your pocket tonight. Tonight, when you sit at the front of your class, right beside your teacher, your insulin pen rolls out of your folder, and onto the floor. And when you hastily bend to retrieve it, your other one joins it, clattering noisily and drawing all the attentions. Then your teacher, who thought you had been lending him a whiteboard marker, thanks you, picks it up and uncaps it to write on the whiteboard before going, “Wait… what is this?”
What is this indeed. What is this thing I still have that makes me hesitant to talk about diabetes? It’s not the whole ‘it’s not your business’ part. That part is blasé and unbothered. That’s the part that doesn’t think you need to know that I secretly love Taylor Swift, but if you found out I wouldn’t care.
This thing here?I care. I care if you ‘find out’ and I can’t control how it’s done. I care if I don’t get to unveil it with a dramatic lead-in and a dash of comedy to obliterate the ‘you’re so brave’ looks (PS, yes I am: I went through natural childbirth TWICE). Or the judgy, “Well, you’re fat. So. Of course you are,” ones (PS: God loves you. But right now I do not). I don’t want to be seen as Diabetes Girl. I want to be Natz, Who Happens to Have This Thing. PS This Thing Is Diabetes. I mean, it’s a long title. But I prefer it really to the short and horrifying Poor Natz. Or the less short, MORE horrifying, Poor Fat Natz, Remember When She Was Hot?
In that moment, I had a choice. I could mumble and snatch it back and stare at the board (blank, since prof had no marker and insulin doesn’t show on whiteboards, far as I know) until something in the room changed (Earthquake? Fault line beneath my chair? Someone bursts into awkward song?) or I could take a breath and not LET myself be turned into Diabetes Girl.
So I said, “That’s my fast-acting insulin, sir. And the one in your other hand is my long-acting one.” He looked at me for a moment, and said (I will love him forever for this), “Is it something you’d like to tell us more about?”
I looked at my classmates, and they looked back. Open, curious, interested. So I did. And I was surprised to find that I wasn’t embarrassed or flustered, nor did I have to fake my cheeriness. Because I realised that we Humans of The Sugar simply need some good ambassadors.
People only have what TV tells them: sitcom punchlines, bawdy performer punchlines, meme punchlines and of course, stupid things like facts about obesity being TIED to (but not the sole reason for) Type 2 (WHICH IS NOT THE SAME AS TYPE 1!!!!!). And of course ads with poor fat and afflicted people wheezing their way to the fridge for another vial of antidote for their constant case of ‘Uh-oh, done gone n had too much nom nom noms again.’
So I’m going to be an ambassador. When I can remember, be bothered, or feel brave enough. Excellent bureaucratic inclinations already evident. Today-Friday, November 14, 2014- is World Diabetes Day, people. Hug a diabetic today! Look for the people with the giant diabetes stamps on their foreheads- they’re compulsory.
Seriously, though, we’re just people. Don’t hug us on “our day” unless you mean our birthdays. Don’t buy Diabetes Foundation pins and say “LOOK! I’M SUPPORTING YOU!” Don’t hide your sugary foods from us- sugar isn’t airborne nor is it an allergen. Don’t rub our backs or hands and say things like, “How are you DOING?” in soft, concerned tones. We’re fine. Even if we’re fat.
Because Diabetics are just people. Awesome people!
It’s just our pancreas that suck.
What should you do? My upcoming comic series will explain so much more about the love and care the diabetic human. Gonna be great. In the MEANTIME….. IT’S WORLD DIABETES DAY! If you feel compelled to do something ‘supporty,’ there is this badge:
Now go have some sugar. Then tell me how it tastes.
That was a joke. I just had 2 cookies.
Here’s to Random Calendar Celebrations everywhere! What’s next, I wonder? International Those Pounds You Lost Are Back Again Day? Because I have things to say about that too.
If there was just ONE thing I could leave you with on Diabetes Day, it would be along these lines:
And if you want to learn a bit more in one fairly easy-to-read infographic, get it here.
Thanks for reading, oh faithful 10-or-so. And anyone else who popped in for a read.
You get a cookie! YOU get cookie! EVERYONE GETS A COOKIE!
Including me 🙂