We’ve all heard it before: wow, how can you do that? You’re so strong. You’re so brave. You’re so courageous, ad nauseam. I have people staring at me while I take insulin injections, like curious little puppies trying to get the best view. We’re hailed as warriors, and that we should strut around like diabetes is a badge of courage on our arms. AND it IS difficult; it’s the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. It is incredible that I’ve never gone into DKA, and that I’ve traveled the world, and have climbed really high mountains, and survived college and graduate school and manage to juggle a full time job while marathon training, and drinking enough water, and texting everyone back, and keeping up with the news, and downloading the latest Amos Lee album, and remembering to exercise and call my mom and finish my veggies, all the while being a FULL-TIME PANCREAS. Yes. It’s hard. But, I’m not anyone’s hero.
I wouldn’t choose this life. I can pretty much guarantee you that everyone who has type 1 would jump ship IMMEDIATELY if they could. Sure, my super cool diabetes tattoo is permanent, but I don’t want my disease state to be. No one wants to be a member of club that they didn’t sign up for, especially a club that has no exit clause. It’s hard, it’s tough, it’s frustrating. It doesn’t make me a hero.
It’s not heroic when I pass on dessert, or make sure I get exercise every day. I don’t think it’s particularly courageous that I get my a1c done every 3 months. It’s stuff that I have to do in order to keep feeling okay in the body that I’ve got. I used to rebel when I was a teenager, thinking that maybe my diabetes would just go away if I ignored it long enough- NOPE. The only person I was hurting with that inchoate strategy was myself. I don’t think I’m superior because I eat low carb; I’m not better than you because I make myself to go the gym most days of the week- these are tactics I take to feel my best. And sometimes, I don’t want to be anyone’s hero.
Sometimes, I just want to eat dinner, and not have everyone stop and ask if I’m OK when I take out my syringe to dose. Sometimes, I want my running buddies to JUST KEEP GOING and I want to handle my low solo. Sometimes, I don’t want to just be the, “friend with type 1” as my forefront descriptor. Sometimes, I just want a few hours where I don’t think about all of the intricate things that make me different, and just feel some sameness. Sometimes, I don’t want to be reminded about high risk pregnancies, and complications, and be congratulated that I don’t have diabetes retinopathy (yet). Thanks anyway.
Sometimes, I just want to be a regular person. A person with (a side of) diabetes.