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Diabetes

living with type-1 diabetes since 1999

Diabetes, Life Abroad, Travel

2019 in Bullets

2019 was quite the year of ups and downs for me, and this blog fell into full neglect during it. I did not publish a single blog post in the entire year. That’s something I’d like to change in 2020, but I will get into that in another post because that’s not the focus right now.

So here’s what happened in 2019, in more-or-less chronological order, as bullets because I don’t want to get too bogged down in the details of everything.

January

  • Started my first full-time job in Germany!
  • Started officially dating my boyfriend. <3
  • Had a falling out with my roommate at the time.
  • Went to my first ever doctor’s appointment in Germany, with my Diabetologist. I cried, because she gave me every prescription I needed and I didn’t have to pay a copay afterwards.
  • Filled my first prescription for Insulin in Germany. It cost only 10€. I cried for this, too.

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Diabetes

Fuck Being “Polite”

Once, before I had an insulin pump so I must have been about 13 or 14 years old, I was eating at a diner with my dad, brother, and sister. My brother and I both live with Type-1 Diabetes, so we tested our blood sugars together. However, he was on an insulin pump at the time and I was not yet, so I had to draw up insulin into a syringe from a vial (this was pre-pens, too!) and I did so right at the table.

While I was flicking the syringe to get rid of the air bubbles I noticed, out of the corner of my eye, a little kid pointing at me. He asked his parent: “What is she doing?” I was done extricating the air bubbles at this point and made no hesitation in proceeding to take my injection in my arm, leaning against the table to pinch up the skin. I saw the child’s parent watching me with this look of horror on her face.

She quickly turned to her child and said in a hushed, but not enough to prevent me from hearing her, tone: “You see what she did just there? I never want you to do that.” Clearly, she assumed I was doing recreational drugs or something equally egregious. It kind of boggles my mind, thinking about it today. I was clearly a young teenager, sitting with my own parent and younger siblings, what in the world possessed her to think I would be doing such a thing not just openly in a public space, but under the watchful eye of my father? Really‽

I wish I had had the guts, at that age, to turn around and correct her. But I didn’t—instead, I was extremely embarrassed. I remember always being embarrassed of having to do things in public, whether it was testing my blood sugar or taking shots. Having my brother along made it easier, because I was used to him doing it (he’s lived with this disease much longer than I have) but it didn’t make the staring or the insensitive comments more bearable. I remember getting mad at my dad, once, in a restaurant for telling the waitress to double-check that our soda was diet because his kids were diabetic. I remember such comments eliciting strange looks, judgmental glares, raised eyebrows. It got bad enough that I would go to the bathroom to take my shots, or—even scarier—not take them at all.

Last week, after a meeting with my Diabetes Educator, we decided to put me back on MDIs for the next month since my insulin pump has been malfunctioning. I felt the same feelings of shame creeping back in, and even avoided taking a shot in public at a late lunch with my boyfriend last weekend.

In an ideal world, no person living with Diabetes should have to feel this way, ever. Which is why I’m extremely perturbed by the Miss Manners post in which the advice columnist tells the PWD writing to her that he should absolutely go to the restroom to perform the simple blood glucose checks and insulin injections that are medically necessary for him to do, and often need to be done right away, so as not to “disturb” the people around him. Is this really what she considers to be polite?

Whether it be on a plane, bus, train, or at a restaurant—I’m past the point of being “polite” and excusing myself to hide from the world the fact that I have to do these things in order to stay healthy. It’s shameful, it’s not fair to me or anyone else and perpetuates the idea that the things I need to do to stay alive are somehow BAD.

No. Fuck that. I won’t have it. Those stigmas against lancets and syringes will never be eradicated if it’s not made to be seen as normal. Going forward, I’m not going to hide from anyone anymore. I took an injection right at my desk at work yesterday. So take that, Miss “Manners.” Deal with it.

Diabetes

Only Immortal for a Limited Time

When we are young
Wandering the face of the earth
Wondering what our dreams might be worth
Learning that we’re only immortal
For a limited time.

-Dreamline by Rush

It was 4 days before my 12th birthday. I had asked for two sandwiches with my lunch instead of one only a week or so prior. I remember coming back from dance class that night and feeling tired. I remember how heavy my body felt as I got out of the car and went to head inside and upstairs to my bedroom. I remember my mom grabbing my arm and guiding me to the kitchen instead.

I remember her telling my brother to get his meter.

The realization of what she wanted to do hit me like a freight train. “No… No!” I struggled but she managed to check my blood glucose. The numbers counted down… I was over 300 mg/dL. I started crying.

In the car ride to the hospital, my mother tried to reassure me that everything would be okay. I stared out the window, my arms crossed, thinking. Thinking that my body is broken. Thinking that I will die young. Thinking that Diabetes will kill me.

I felt my mortality that day. I’ve lived every day feeling it since. It certainly gives you perspective.

This year marks 14 years with Type-1 Diabetes for me. I’ve struggled a lot with this disease. There have been highs and lows, both literally and figuratively. I’ve dealt with a lot. The struggle has made me stronger, wiser, and more understanding. I’m proud of who I am and how I have been shaped.

World Diabetes Day