Posted by VeganLRO
Last week I wrote a poem called “Crush(ed)” about a new crush I’m starting to develop. While it’s exciting to feel giddiness when that hopeful significant other even looks my way–or even better when he smiles–there’s also an anxiety attached to the prospect of beginning any relationship. And that anxiety for me is tied directly to the fact that I’m a type 1 diabetic. Hence, that’s why the title of my poem and this post contains those seemingly random parentheses. For me, a simple crush can feel weighted with a hint of heartache as I agonize over how I might break the news that I’m diabetic.
In the past couple weeks I put out a call for fellow diabetics to send me their stories of diabetes oppression. I asked “What’s the worst comment anyone has ever made to you regarding diabetes?” As I’ve shared before, mine took place in fifth grade soon after my diagnosis when a classmate of mine insisted that I got diabetes because I ate too much pie. And, she was clearly an expert on the subject since her grandma had type 2 diabetes, right?
Anyway, one of the responses I received struck a chord with me. The woman that sent me the comment has had diabetes for 46 years and said she is dumbfounded by how little people know about the disease. While I feel anxious about telling others of my diabetes, her experiences have led her to stop telling others entirely. The woman elaborated on her decision, saying, “Saves me from having to answer what seem to me to be judgmental questions from people feigning concern, such as: ‘Should you be eating that?’ A question often posed to me as I go through a buffet line and select a dessert, for instance.”
If it isn’t disheartening to think of not even being able to indulge in one simple dessert without a judgmental glance or inquiry, the woman then shared three of her most memorable moments of diabetes ignorance, and interestingly two of the stories have to do with past boyfriends. I predict that after you read her words, my anxiety about telling my crush about my diabetes might become a little more justified.
There have been a number of personal experiences over the years, but these three stand out in my memory:
1. For my 20th birthday I received a gift of a 10-lb bag of sugar from the guy I was dating at the time. He actually laughed out loud when I opened it. Needless to say, that was our last date.
2. When she found out that I was Diabetic, the mother of another boyfriend of mine asked him to stop seeing me because she thought we were getting too serious; marriage seemed likely. She wanted grandchildren and I, being Diabetic, was not a safe bet for either providing her with them or being around long enough to take care of them. (Well, here I am, 46 years later.) Turns out I never did have children, but not because I had Diabetes; rather, it was because I had Endometriosis and had most of my two ovaries removed in 1968.
3. More recently, a friend’s son-in-law commented upon meeting me, “I see you still have your feet.” Seems someone in his family had suffered a foot amputation. And what is even more stupefying about this guy is that he asks that same question every time he sees me, which, thank goodness, is not often. Oh well, my friend assures me that her son-in-law is a jerk in more ways than one.
In some ways, I’m glad to hear other diabetics’ stories of facing ignorance or oppression because it reminds me that I’m not alone in this fight. I’m not the only one that feels misplaced or targeted or uncomfortable or anxious or angry about being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. But I also hate hearing about the struggles of my fellow diabetics. No one should have to feel as though they should hide who they really are and let’s face it, type 1 diabetes is a big part of what makes me, me.
Thanks for reading The Juice Box Diaries. If you would like your story of diabetes oppression featured, please fill out the form below and don’t worry, I can make it anonymous!
About VeganLROVegan, type 1 diabetic, writer, and fitness enthusiast just trying to help others and make my mark on the world.
Posted on December 16, 2012, in Balance, Community, Diabetes, Emotional Diary, Right vs. Wrong and tagged annoying questions, Blood sugar, boyfriend, Conditions and Diseases, Crush(ed), diabetes, Diabetes mellitus, Diabetes mellitus type 1, diabetes oppression, Diabetes story, emotional diary, Endocrine Disorders, fellow diabetics, health, ignorant comments, Pancreas, Poetry, relationships, Secret, sharing stories, should you be eating that, T1D, Type 1 diabetes. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a Comment.