Taking the High Road

Wouldn’t you know it… there are instructions for this: Take a deep breath. In for five, out for five. Close your eyes to get the full effect. Repeat if necessary until you feel like you’re back into control. Then smile. Look the person directly in the eye and give them a knowing smile. Usually, people find this disarming and want to smile back. Sometimes, this is all it takes.

When it comes to health conditions and each individual’s experience, there will always be someone who doesn’t agree with me. And lately I’ve found myself trying hard not to say something, especially about people with type 2 diabetes. Somehow we’ve been deemed the fat and lazy who deserved to get diabetes; the media doesn’t help and opinion are so divided, I really don’t know right from wrong anymore. I know my personal history, I know I probably could’ve delayed the onset of my diabetes, but the magic cocktail was there for me to develop it. Whether I deserve it or not… that’s another story.

One of the things I struggle the most as diabetes advocate is trying to make other people in the community understand that because I have type 2 it doesn’t mean I have no awareness about other types of diabetes. The constant bashing of type 2s makes me really sad sometimes, and I wish other people wouldn’t be so quick to judge and condemn. Things have gotten to the point that it’s bad that we’re all called diabetics. But that’s a rant for another day. What I’m trying to say is, that in the middle of this struggle, I decide to take the high road and keep on doing what I’m doing: caring, helping, educating.

Sometimes it’s better to smile and keep silent.

Disclosure Post

Today’s NHBPM prompt is disclosure. How did I decide what to share? What do/don’t I share? The first thing that comes to mind is something I read on Kerri‘s page a long time ago: “Diabetes doesn’t define me, but it helps to explain who I am.” So when people ask me about myself, I tell them about my chronic conditions right off the bat. I am not ashamed or scared to tell them that I have a cranky pancreas and a lazy thyroid. It’s chronic, it won’t go away; if I live with it, I may as well disclose it.

I don’t worry too much about talking about my thyroid, but with personal relationships, I learned the hard way to tell people about my diabetes. Yes, I used to be ashamed of it, or afraid that others would see me in another light if I told them about it. I found out I had diabetes during one of my long term relationships, and then I kept it from the next person I met… Let me tell you it isn’t fun to be reminded that you hid something from them all the time. So from now on, if I meet someone I’m going to be seeing on a regular basis (friends or more), I let them know what’s going on. Mostly because I think it’s a matter of respect, but also because I think people should know how to help you when something goes wrong. And for me, it also makes part of my advocacy efforts, and my desire to educate people. It’s refreshing to know how how many people actually want to hear and learn about anything that is different.

And then it comes work. I usually don’t hide my conditions from my supervisors. Especially with diabetes, I have to respect my eating schedule, I have doctors appointments, etc. I need them to know that sometimes I’ll have a small emergency, like having a low blood sugar that I need to treat. It’s still a struggle sometimes because most people don’t get the concept of “I need to eat something NOW!” But I prefer they know, so they give me the respect I deserve based on the Americans with Disabilities act. Yes, my conditions are considered a disability, and I think it’s important to disclose in some cases.

I don’t know about this, but I’d like to

One of the things I like about my life is that I decided to be an advocate for people with diabetes even before my own diagnosis (you can read all about it here). But since I have type 2 diabetes, in order to be a true advocate, it has been my latest mission to educate myself more about other types of diabetes. I have to confess that until a few months ago I had no idea of what people were talking about when they mentioned the word “basal.” It made me uncomfortable not knowing, so once I met my friend Marie, I started asking all kinds of questions about insulin-dependent diabetes.

There is still a lot for me to know. I remember when I thought that diabetes only came in 3 types: 1, 2 and gestational. And then I started reading all about it… let me tell you, it’s a jungle out there with so many symptoms, treatments, outcomes, age onsets, etc. And that’s why I want to learn as much as I can about it. I have a pretty good idea of how my type 2 diabetes works, but I want to be able to help other people. I may not be able to give them medical advice but sometimes it’s good to talk to someone who has a clue of what’s going on. And like I said, what kind of diabetes advocate would I be if I only go for my type?

An inspirational quote

Fall seven times, stand up eight. —Japanese Proverb

Today’s prompt for the NHBPM is finding a quote and use it as inspiration. I chose this Japanese proverb because dealing with chronic illness is a continuous struggle, it comes with a lot of set backs and it sometimes it feels like two steps forward, one step back. We live and learn.

But I believe that dealing with the daily challenges of a chronic condition makes me stronger and more aware of my body. That is a wonderful thing, it makes me more mindful and somehow it also gives me an idea of how to deal with every other challenge in my life.