It happened again tonight. I’ve only had diabetes for about 16 months now and I’ve probably been asked upwards of 50 times. And now, tonight, you can make that 51. I was at dinner, after church, and I pulled out my super posh insulin/meter kit, tested, and started to calculate what I was about to eat. An acquaintance said to me, “You have diabetes?” I recited my brief explanation for how it’s actually what brought me to Seattle, blah blah blah. And then, of course, he asked:
“So, is it hard having diabetes?”
There was a pause. I suppose it’s getting to where I feel like I’m pulling up a script and reading off the page. You know, it’s the scene where the diabetic turns to the audience and gives her monologue on what it’s like to live with diabetes. This was especially true tonight because now my other friends at the table had turned to listen to my response. The question brings to mind so many things: the old Peggy McIntosh piece where she describes (#21) how unfair it is to ask any one person to speak on behalf of some minority group made up of individuals who see the world in different ways; all people with diabetes, but especially my brother, who lived with Type I for 16 years before I was even diagnosed and whom I never thought to ask how hard it was; and the amazingly accurate summary provided by fellow blogger, Sam Gellman, who wrote the following:
[pullquote]Perhaps you’ve had my typical conversation: “Yes, I give myself shots, no it doesn’t really hurt, yes it’s ok if I eat cake, yes I can drink that beer, well I wouldn’t say having the disease is no big deal, but no you shouldn’t feel sorry for me…” Next topic.[/pullquote]
Maybe I could just start reciting Sam’s monologue–it’s short and sweet and conveys the message I need to convey.
Instead, I started into my own monologue. I mean, this guy meant well and was simply trying to learn about my daily life, I’m sure. For these past 16 months, I have almost always lived my diabetes “out loud” and I really don’t mind answering questions or even diving into detailed explanations of beta cells–if that’s what’s requested. I actually like talking about diabetes and my clinical trial and how you never know where life will take you and blah blah blah. Sometimes, though, enough’s enough. I can’t even imagine how many times you Type I vets out there have had to answer this question, but I’m already tired. There have got to be some good, brief, polite answers you use that I can memorize for later.
Or print out on a small card that I will hand to people when they ask.