On Your Own (?)

September 29th, 2011 by Amy Gonsalves Leave a reply »

It’s sometimes the things someone says when they don’t even realize they’ve said something.  I met a woman at my recent talk on Diabetes and Exercise, and she said something in a way that made me instantly know I will never ever forget her.

She probably didn’t even hear what she said, but it struck me and has been on the edge of my consciousness ever since.

She said she has to do her diabetes all by herself.

(Realistically, I understand that I just got a bunch of readers who said in their heads something along the line of “of course!” or in some way agreed with that.  And, depending on how your day is going, you may feel various ways about that, and there are probably about three hundred different ways to say “of course!” But keep reading because this is important.)

But here’s the thing.  I think she’s wrong.  I don’t think she has to do her diabetes all by herself.

For one thing, her boyfriend was attached by her side the entire two hours she was at the event.

For another thing, I think she is pretty damn brave for showing up when she’s feeling like her diabetes life is not where she wants it.  She was in a room full of people who know E.X.A.C.T.L.Y. how that feels.  I’m proud of her for getting herself to that chair.  I’m proud of her for speaking to me when I plopped myself down next to her because I hadn’t seen her say a thing to anyone in the entire room and felt compelled to introduce myself.  (Seriously; what IS that?! I find myself do irritating sometimes.  But, in all, it was important and I’m glad I elbowed my way into her world for that brief time.)

I’m thrilled she knew enough to ask for help.  I’m honored she felt I could be a good resource for her.

I was thinking later about other people I have known whose actions tell me they feel the same as this woman: doing diabetes all alone.

One person hid her diabetes from everyone and didn’t let anyone else have a chance to share the burden.

One person kept his diabetes to himself but went low often enough that his entire office knew what to do for his lows, and they called in a nearby doctor when it was necessary.

That doesn’t sound to me like he was alone with his diabetes.

One person asked for help from some smart people, received it, and has since spent most days speaking, explaining, educating, and venting to friends, acquaintances, and maybe the entire internet about diabetes and how it is to live with the disease.

Oh, wait; that’s me.

Life with diabetes is not meant to be a solo enterprise.  It simply doesn’t work in any significant, long-term way to keep it that way.  But you do have to recognize that you are responsible for sharing your diabetes burden if you want to feel not alone.  You do have a responsibility to yourself to check your blood glucose levels, and deal with them however best you and your doctor have decided, and to keep living your life.

You have a responsibility to speak to the people you share your life with.  You aren’t getting rid of your diabetes any time soon, and like it or not, your diabetes is a huge part of that life.  So share some of your diabetes.

Teach your best friend to count carbs.  Teach your girlfriend how to deal with you when your blood glucose is 50 and getting to the fridge for juice on your own is too much.  Teach your kids what you’re doing and why it matters.  Invite your boyfriend with you to your next visit with your CDE.  Show up at a diabetes event.

Be brave.  YOU CAN DO IT. Diabetes gets a hell of a lot lighter off your back when you share it.  If you aren’t getting the response you want or need, try again.  If the people still aren’t willing to help, ask someone else.  Ask your CDE.  Ask your counselor.  Ask me.  Ask someone you met at that diabetes thing you went to three years ago.  Whomever you share something with will then be helping you do your diabetes.  Not alone.


Be Sociable, Share!


  1. Tammy says:

    I was one of the people who didn’t answer “Of course”. Since my diagnosis, I have never been alone with my diabetes. I have a rock solid husband who pulled me through the worst weeks and months of my life, friends who are willing to learn about my disease, and even a group of kids who thinks it cool in that gross kind of way kids do to watch me test my blood sugar. I take every opportunity I get to educate someone about this disease.

  2. Tammy that is awesome!! Yay!!!

Leave a Reply