Have you ever suddenly realized that you are not the person that you were raised to be? That the beliefs you hold about yourself are totally opposite to the ones you were brought up to embrace or accept? And what you now see in yourself, you like?
I had that sudden realization the other day – mostly regarding how I relate to myself and others about my diabetes. This all became paramount when I questioned myself about posting this on my Facebook page:
It’s Diabetes Awareness Month, it’s not pink or sexy, it doesn’t involve boobs, football players, or cute shirts. It’s about being grateful when your loved one wakes up in the morning. It’s about 3:00AM blood sugar checks, needles, low blood sugars, and the smell of insulin on your hands after changing a pump set or filling a syringe. That’s a person with diabetes life. Re-post if you love someone, know someone, or are someone with diabetes.
Do I really want to endorse the fact that I’ve got diabetes? The ‘younger me’ was taught to hide my diabetes at all costs. I was taught that it was shameful and something not to be shared. I grew to be my own reliant “chronic child” and never ask for help, even when I needed it badly. But now, the answer is “YES!” I do have diabetes and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. I’ve been teaching about diabetes to patients, families and groups for years; and finally, after over 55 years of living with “type 1”, I’m finding I can stand proudly and say, “Yes. I have diabetes.”
Just last weekend, Rainie and I were representing Early Alert Canines at the JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes. As I was and talking to families and individuals with diabetes about diabetic alert dogs, I realized that, not only did I have Rainie (with her “Medical Alert Service Dog” vest) and was wearing my usual medic-alert bracelet (which I was not allowed to own when I was a child), but I also donned a blue “Cure Diabetes” bracelet, a blue-bead necklace, and a blue ‘dog-tag’ that states, “I have type 1 diabetes (T1D)”. I was a walking banner for diabetes! I asked myself, “How different could I be compared to what I was?” And I also knew that my dad must be rolling in his grave. (He never became comfortable with the fact I began wearing a medic-alert when I went to college.) I also discovered that, once I began wearing the ‘dog-tag’, other diabetics seemed to be more comfortable talking with me. I wasn’t just another counselor or nurse. I was one of them. Little kids liked to show me that they had on a dog-tag, just like mine. We are all part of the same club.
Oh, and if you are still wondering, I did post that statement on my Facebook page.