Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Your Life Hasn't Really Changed, Right?

In real life, I can be kind of shy.  I don't tend to be very talkative around people I don't know.  Also, I HATE being the center of attention.  All this having been said, I wish I could have a do-over for the other night.

Last week, I had to stay after work for First Aid training.  We do this yearly, and it's no biggie.  But I always wind up being the center of attention for a few minutes, when we get to the section on diabetes.  All my co-workers look at me, and the paramedic doing the training usually asks me a few questions.

Typically, I'm fine with all of that.  All my co-workers are wonderful and know I'm diabetic.  I'm not shy about discussing it, especially if someone has questions.  That part was fine.

The very nice paramedic lady asked me a couple basic questions, like when I was diagnosed, which was fine too.  Here's the part I wish I could do over.

She looked right at me and said, "Your life hasn't really changed, right?"  I just stared at her and sort of shrugged.

Now, bear in mind, I had a horrible week last week, and was totally preoccupied with other things.  But now, looking back, I am shocked that she would say that to me.  I am also angry.

I've spent the last several days thinking about this, wishing I could go back and set her straight.  Or maybe it's good I was too wiped to deal with it at the time--I might have said something I'd later regret.

Because now I'm furious.  How dare she?  This woman is supposed to know about chronic disease.  How could she possibly think that something like D hasn't changed my life at all?!!??  Careful, there might be smoke coming out of my ears right now.

I understand that she was trying to make the point that I am not really different from anyone else.  She may have been worried about what my co-workers were thinking, and was trying to normalize things.  Who knows.

I really wish I could go back and respond.  But what would I tell her?

I would tell her yes, yes my life has changed quite a bit.  Just because I don't really remember not having D doesn't mean I don't realize how different life would be without it.

It changed how I relate to food.  I can't put anything in my mouth without doing some serious math (or SWAGing, depending on the day).  It changed my childhood, as it does for every CWD.  I had to learn to be way more responsible than my peers; it forced me to grow up more quickly.  D adds challenging elements to any task, whether it's shoveling the driveway (yes, I've gone low doing that) to spending a night away from home (all the extra supplies required).

The D diagnosis forces myself and my loved ones to deal with all the physical and emotional stress that comes with it.  From being exhausted the next day from fighting overnight lows, to dealing with hardcore burnout.  The fear of nighttime lows leftover from three (count 'em--THREE) middle of the night seizures.

Not to mention the fact that without a continuous supply of insulin, I would DIE?!??! Remember that part?

So, dear paramedic lady, I understand you didn't mean to offend me, I do.  But I am offended anyways.  Yes, I can live with D.  Yes, I am grateful because there are a lot worse things out there.  Yes, I have no intention of letting D stop me from accomplishing anything and everything I want to do.

But it has changed my life.  How dare you think otherwise.


  1. totally agree. i have those moments after the fact when i think 'i wish i would have said this...'

    i wasn't diagnosed until i was 17 but at this point i don't really remember life without diabetes but i am with you, i'm very aware of how different life could be without D.


  2. I usually try to take the best intentions of what someone means. Or as my DH likes to say - "if you can take something I say 2 ways, take it the better way." That said, this is indeed a tricky one. And I always think of much more brilliant retorts after I have some time to think it thru too. Why is that?

    I would like to think that when a similar comment is made to me in the future that I will be able to say something like "Yes and no. It has completely changed it and at the same time he can still do everything he could before, just in a different way. Completely, because now I have to worry about all these things I never had to worry about before with my son - like knowing every single thing he eats, and what he does, and who can watch him. With proper planning, he can do anything a boy without D can do. Eat what he wants and do what he wants. So I feel like our life is totally different, but yet is pretty much the same because we work so hard to keep it that way."

  3. Oh my gosh Jess, I can totally relate. I posted on something similar last night (

    It's so hard when people discredit us or are insensitive, even though most of the time it is out of ignorance and just not understanding.

    We know though. We know how much we put in to this...and how hard it can be...and also how good it feels when the diabetes gods line things up for us and we do "everything we're supposed to do" and have our numbers/graphs look great for a whole day or a a whole period or our A1c meets our goal, etc...

  4. You know my mouth. When people say stuff like that i say '' come over. Stay 24hours and you tell me''.


  5. Jess,

    I am glad that I have started to follow your blog. While I would never make the same mistake First Aid Lady made, your blog has let me understand and appreciate more about D and how it affects you, which in turn helps me be a more conscientious friend. You're always so low-key about it in person. You're awesome!