I absolutely hated the thought of being visibly different to anyone else after my diagnosis. I would sit in the hallway at diabetes clinic, watching the other “diabetic” young adults, and I absolutely hated that I was one of them. For the first couple of years, I definitely tried to hide from my diabetes to a certain degree.
I stubbornly refused to wear my Medic Alert bracelet, despite Mum and Dad’s constant reminders that it might save my life one day, on the principle that it branded me as a “diabetic.”
I would travel as lightly as possible whenever I left the house, without even thinking about the consequences. My diabetes educator once asked me where my jellybeans and meter were. I used to live by the motto that it would never happen to me. And shops were everywhere for backup.
I rarely tested my glucose in public situations, even if I needed to. Oftentimes at uni, I would test with the meter hidden in my bag. Or pack up my things and walk off to the bathroom.
I refused to wear appropriate footwear. I would stubbornly walk around uni in rubber thongs. When my feet were blistering at the end of the day, I was proud that I fitted in with many of the other students on campus.
I wouldn’t talk about diabetes if I didn’t have to. I didn’t lean on the people around me enough for support. I wasn’t confident or enthusiastic about it when it did come up.
Finding peer support and knowledge online, and opening up about my diabetes through this blog has definitely changed my attitude towards diabetes for the better. (Perhaps some age and maturity comes into play here as well…)
Today, my hypo containers accompany me most times I leave the house. Even if they sit in my jacket all night, or stay in the car on a quick trip to the shops, I feel much more comfortable having them on me. My contingency pack is also ready for when I’m away from home for a prolonged period of time.
I’ve developed a new love for shoes. I’ve been a thongs-and-sandals-in-the-summer kind of guy my whole life, yet now I wear them half as often. While I certainly don’t wear “diabetic” shoes, I do dress more suitably for the occasion. And a good pair of Converse shoes looks good with anything.
Today, my glucose meter sits proudly on my desk at work, within easy reach when I need it. I test in the office that I share with a few other colleagues, and it’s sparked a couple of conversations in particular during recent weeks.
I’m still tragically hopeless at stringing words together when people ask me if that is a diabetes testing thingy (translation: blood glucose meter), but boy am I so much more confident in addressing it.
I still don’t wear a Medic Alert bracelet most of the time, but that’s purely just because I’m annoyed at the old expanda band sticking to my wrist (something I need to get onto, soon).
I’ve recently began wearing an insulin pump – a very visible sign of my diabetes. When I think about those first few weeks on the insulin pump, I think about how much I talked it through with my family every morning when I woke up – something that I simply wasn’t able to do after I was diagnosed.
I’ve been watching Diabetes Victoria’s Diabetes Won’t Stop Me campaign for National Diabetes Week, trying to think of something grand to say about how I am not stopped by diabetes.
Accepting that these diabetes intricacies are my ordinary over the past few years, is far more extraordinary than what climbing a bridge will ever be.
That, folks, is how I will not be stopped by diabetes.