This year, in particular, my diabetes is more apparent than it ever has been before. I started wearing an insulin pump in May, and intermittently use the FreeStyle Libre to monitor my blood glucose. I more actively manage my blood sugar levels than I once did, which means I rarely leave the house without my meter and skittles. I tend to my diabetes quite a lot through the day, and I am very conscious of it.
Which is why the very first question during last week’s OzDOC chat really struck a chord with me. What are the high lights and low lights of being open about my diabetes in real life?
For me, one of the low points is definitely my perception that others might see it as a weakness. It’s stupid, really, because why should I care about what other people think? Yet those thoughts still sit there, on the edge of my subconscious, every time I need to pause and tend to diabetes through the day.
Every time I swipe my FreeStyle Libre up against my arm. Every time I pull out my pump, staring at it for moments on end while deliberating over a correction bolus. Every time I’ve got my phone in hand at the dinner table (and feeling extremely rude for it), calculating carbs or searching through Calorie King. When I spilled my container of skittles on the floor in the shopping centre last week while I was trying to treat a hypo, scrambling to pick them all up (thank goodness I had a spare!).
For the most part, I definitely don’t feel that diabetes as a weakness. When I reflect on my life, I don’t feel that it is significantly weaker because I live with diabetes.
Sure, it’s work. Hard work. It effects every single activity that I undertake. It’s intrusive. It’s frustrating. It doesn’t always go right. It does interrupt my day. I get angry and sweary and pissed off. If I’m lucky, it will even disturb me while I’m asleep. It’s fair to say we have our moments.
Yet as strange as it might seem, most of the time it is just something that I have to do alongside eating and sleeping and working. Half decent management doesn’t simply come from accepting defeat.
I guess, naturally, people don’t know a lot about diabetes. Neither did I, in the 17 years before I was diagnosed. I don’t really know how I can change that.
The high point of being open about my diabetes would definitely be its conversational value. It does give you something interesting to talk about. And I do feel a little less “weaker” when the people around me know what I’m doing.
I can only hope that by being open about my diabetes, I am not feeding those perceptions of weakness. I can only hope that by continuing to talk about it, others will see it as the ordinary that I do.