Friday, August 10, 2012

It's all about acceptance, and comfort.

I have had a few moments this week that have blown my mind. And they have all been diabetes related.

This blog has been the beginning of a major step in my self-care, as I described in my first post, so I will start by saying that.

I have a T1D friend who is in the process of switching from MDI to a pump. She has been apprehensive about it, understandably, for various reasons. It's a visual constant reminder of your diabetes, it opens you to the possibility of more severe highs, but most importantly to her: it changes the way you manage your disease completely. When you have been living with T1 diabetes for 25ish years like myself and her, making such a drastic change can be terrifying. I mean she has gotten this far and is relatively unscathed, but as she noted in our conversation about pumps: she feels like she is managing a different disease than me or our dfriends who are also pumping.

As members of the DOC (diabetes online community) know, feeling a social disconnect from others who have diabetes can create a major barrier that nobody, no endocrinologist, no psychologist and certainly no family or loved one can reconnect for you. She mentioned that she had been reading my blog (hey, girl!) and that I had noticeably taken a new vigor towards diabetes awareness and advocacy.

It's 100% true, and I told her that my new pump (I made a switch to Animas from Medtronic) as well as my desire to just be healthy made me search out the community I felt I was lacking in a major way the past few years.

See, when I was only dxd for 3 months, my parents shipped me off to diabetes camp. At the age of  7 and taking only 2 units of N and 1 unit of R insulin, in 1989 I was scared, but also amazed that there were so many other kids like me! And I fell in love. I fell in love with the bonds I created at summer camp, the friends I made (including the lady I am referencing now) and the feeling of acceptance and understanding. When you are low and cranky, people try to understand but they just don't. They can only nod and say "I hear you" when you bitch about going through 4 infusion sets in one day for no reason. They can only provide a shoulder to sob into when you come out of your endocrinologist appointment, feeling like a failure to yourself. What diabetes camp provided me will never be matched again in my life in terms of value of self acceptance.

The past four years I have not been connected to diabetes camp, due to "real life" getting in the way. And I have been missing that sense of connection and acceptance in a big way.

So this morning, being a Friday, I went to Starbucks to get my treat: venti iced coffee with sugar free hazelnut. As I ordered, I had the following conversation with a man behind me....around my age (28ish):

Man: I have a weird question, and please feel free not to answer.
Me: Ok, shoot
Man: Do you feel your insulin pump?

At this point I was kind of shocked because I always wear my pump in my bra and I wasn't wearing a low cut shirt....and then I realized that my infusion set was displayed vibrantly (I am wearing a pink one) on my upper left arm. the irony of this situation has not passed...

Me: Actually, I forgot I was wearing my site on my arm and was confused as to how you noticed, so no I don't usually feel it.

As we got to talking he told me he had been using needles and mixing insulin since he was 5, he said it has been well over 22 years for him doing this and his doctor had suggested a pump just last week! I was absolutely shocked that someone was still using needles and mixing NPH etc. And I explained to him the benefits that I see, the convenience, the ability to control the diabetes. I asked him about ever going to camp, and he said that he grew up out of province where there was never a big push for it. At that point I had referred him to the endocrinology clinic perhaps giving him a little more perspective (and certainly more professional advice) on the newer technologies and treatments available. The comment that he said that truly stuck out for me was that he wasn't sure about the pump being comfortable.

I took it as face value, being physically uncomfortable. But maybe he meant it will take him out of his comfort zone. I guess I will never know.

What I do know is that I have to remember that this disease is so personal and everyone treats it completely different, and sometimes I have to have a slice of humble pie to be reminded of that.

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