Embarrassed by your Diabetes?

August 22nd, 2012 by Amy Gonsalves Leave a reply »

Everyone around me, it feels, is discussing going back to school with diabetes, or going away to school with diabetes, or some such topic.  I know the underlying goal of many of them is to re-energize people to take care of themselves despite life upheavals and changes like heading back to school, which is a great idea.

I’ve seen some comments this week that mention being embarrassed by diabetes.

I get it: we often need an extra moment or two to check our BG, or have to go back and grab our meter or make a pit stop for juice if we’re low.  Or, we’ve got a lump on our waistband or arm where our pump is doing its thing, or we have an unsightly bruise from a shot gone wrong.

I want to refuse the notion of being embarrassed by any of that.

Has it been that long since I was embarrassed?  Or is it more that I’ve never really felt too embarrassed by my disease?

Maybe both.  I know in my head that junior high and high school were decades ago (caught sight of my elbow skin yesterday—no denying my age there), but I hold in a special place the anguish nearly everything caused me.  It’s funny to actually write, but I know I learned a lot of very important things then.

An example: no one else is looking at the hem of your pants.  A half inch one way or the other isn’t really going to matter.  Caveat: don’t wear white socks and black pants.

It pains me to think about anyone feeling embarrassed by their diabetes.  I don’t think my own shunning of my disease through those years was embarrassment—it was more denial than anything—and I really really don’t think there is any part of diabetes that should cause embarrassment.

Granted, some people who don’t have diabetes can say things that make us take a step back.  “EWW!” or “I could never do that” or “what IS that” all come to mind.

But internalizing thoughtless comments is simply misplaced when it comes to life with diabetes.  That’s all there is to it.

You can choose to educate in response to a comment, or you can choose to hide your diabetes in an effort to avoid them altogether.  (Trust me, that one is a bad idea.)

If you think you are embarrassed by your diabetes and are making an effort to make things easier on other people by “not being a bother” to them, you are not taking care of yourself.  Simple as that.

I make my running partners stop so I can eat all the time.  Is that my preference?  Nope.  Do they seem to mind?  Nope.  Do I think some part of them thinks “glad I don’t have to juggle that!”?  Yep.

So, the next time I hear a thoughtless remark (which I know is just a matter of time), I want to come up with some good retorts

An old standard: You’d die if you didn’t.

A quick one to shut them up: It isn’t my CHOICE to have diabetes, but I do choose to take care of myself.

Simple and to the point: It’s my insulin pump; I have type one diabetes.

Short and truthful: It’s hard, but it’s doable.

Got any more ideas?

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  1. Marla says:

    My 10 year old deals with this stuff all the time. She actually feels pretty good about being “tough” and taking her shots without whining or flinching while her friends say, ewwww….we just say, “Wuss.” Especially when the ewww comes from an adult.

  2. cassie connolly says:

    Hi Amy,
    Just reading your blog. It’s so good. I realized that something hurt my feelings the other day. I have type 2, bad neuropathy, bad-bad proprioception in my feet and I fall all the time. Broke my left wrist and badly damaged my left ankle Memorial day. I am recovering very slowly. I decided I was going to a haunted house last weekend. I knew it would be hard but I really wanted to go. So I went with a friend. The parking situation was a nightmare, so I just kept asking the attendants for handicapped parking. I needed to get as close as possible. I was given an awesome parking spot. It was a little awkward to get in there and it was reserved for VIP’s. But I was thrilled. As I was driving in my friend said “this is so embarrassing!”
    I was crushed.
    Why was it embarrassing? It’s what allowed me to do a really long haunted house without falling because I was overly fatigued.
    I will mention it to her gently. I know that she meant no harm, but it hurt.
    Thanks for all you do. Cassie

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