Yesterday a new friend asked me if it was hard to be a diabetic. I didn’t really know how to answer, so I just shrugged. I guess my answer is yes, but with a huge question mark. How do I measure the difficulty of my life with diabetes when the entirety of my adulthood has been with the disease. I can’t envision my world without it.
I ask myself if I’d be the same person if the diagnosis hadn’t happened. Would I be less responsible? Would I value my health less? Could that one fateful day almost twelve years ago have altered my entire existence to the point that I wouldn’t recognize myself today without it? I even ask myself if diabetes is something I should be thankful for. After all, it’s contributed to shaping me into the person I am today, a person that loves to express myself creatively, loves to help other people, and takes pride in my discipline as a vegan and exercise nut.
But coming back to that question, “is it hard to be a diabetic,” there are two halves to my answer of yes. One, it’s physically challenging to go through blood sugar spikes and plummets and the secondary side effects that go along with those two realities of the disease. Two, it’s emotionally draining to face each day feeling unsure whether someone will say something ignorant about diabetes or judge me for something utterly out of my control. The latter is why it takes me a long time to tell friends about my disease. I hate anticipating their reaction and I fear that they’ll look at me differently.
I can’t articulate why I feel so uneasy about telling others of my diabetes. Maybe it has to do with that girl in fifth grade that wouldn’t let up about her theory that I got diabetes because I ate too much pie. Other diabetics tell me all the time about ignorant comments they’ve been told and for the most part, they also tend to keep those moments of oppression a secret, bottling up anger, and heartache, and the sense that we don’t quite fit in.
I’ve decided that the only way to fight against diabetes oppression and ignorance is to band together in a united front. So, my fellow type 1 diabetics, I’m officially putting out a call for stories of diabetes ignorance. What’s the worst comment anyone has ever made to you about your diabetes? Fill out the form here with your story and I will feature it on my blog, The Juice Box Diaries. Let me know if you’d like to include your name or make it anonymous. I encourage you to tell the whole truth and don’t hold back!