I’m not ashamed of my diabetes. Ask me anything about my diabetes, I’ll tell you. Oh you want to see what the infusion set or CGM sensor looks like? Here, I’ll show you. You want to watch me test my blood sugar or change my set? Sure, by all means.
I am open about my diabetes, but yet I have my moments. Maybe ashamed is too strong of a word, maybe it’s more that I become self-conscious.
It was a few months ago. I was a tourist in our country’s capital, spending the afternoon sight seeing on my own. All of the sudden I could feel my blood sugar dropping, and not the gentle kind of dropping. I took a pack of fruit snacks out from my coat pocket, ripped the packet opened, and poured the entire contents into my mouth at once. Yes, eating them one or two at a time may have been better etiquette, but sometimes etiquette goes out the window when it comes to diabetes. As I stood there masticating like a cow, I became aware of a man that was walking toward me, having witnessed the whole ordeal. He gave me a kind of confused look as he walked by. Part of me wanted to chase after him and tell him, “I don’t normally eat like that, I have diabetes and my blood sugar was low and I was feeling impatient!” but really I knew it didn’t matter, plus I was still working my way through the stickiness of the fruit snacks. It wasn’t just about that man though, it’s all the “inappropriate” times that I rip open that packet of fruit snacks and pour them into my mouth. I know it doesn’t matter what other people think, but sometimes I can’t help but wonder. What were those women thinking when I was eating the fruit snacks in the museum when it clearly said no food or drinks? What about the people at the gym when I have to stop halfway through my workout to eat a packet? In the waiting room of the doctor’s office? I mean they probably just think I reallllly like my fruit snacks, but I do wonder.
It was a few weeks ago. I was among a small group of people, gathered in someone’s home, listening to a community leader speak about his experiences over the years. Cheese and crackers, fruit, and cookies were served. I was seated next to this gentleman, everyone’s attention aimed just to my left. That’s when I realized I had forgotten to bolus for the fruit and couple crackers I had eaten. However, I was having one of those moments where I just wanted to blend in, I didn’t want to draw attention to myself as I knew pulling my pump out of my pocket and beeping away would. So I didn’t bolus then, I waited until our talk was over and everyone had gotten up. I suffered for my decision, my CGM showing my blood sugar in the 200’s and rising. I shouldn’t have cared, no one else would have. Or I should have excused myself and gone to the bathroom to give myself insulin. But I didn’t, and my blood sugars reflected that moment of self-consciousness.
It was a few days ago. I was shopping for some dress pants for my new job. I found a nice pair, but when I tried them on, I realized that the pockets weren’t real, basically just slits not big enough to hold my pump. “You can always just clip it to the outside of your pants.” I knew that, but I didn’t want to. I didn’t want it to show.
I’m not ashamed of my diabetes, but I realize I clearly still have moments of self-consciousness. I’m comforted by the fact that I’m sure everyone has their moments, whether it’s diabetes related or not. But what I have and what I do to take care of it should not be a source of self-doubt or make me feel self-conscious. What I do is necessary for my health and for my life. I can’t let moments like these prevent me from taking care of myself. While I recognize that I’ve had less of these moments as I’ve gotten older, I know it’s something I still need to work on.