Within a few days, I had the exact same conversation with a coworker and a running teammate, both of whom I have known and seen regularly for several months:
Me: blah blah blah low blood sugar blah blah blah continuous glucose monitor blah blah–
Him: Wait, you have diabetes?
Him: Oh, I had no idea.
I had a few reactions to this:
- Confusion: Haven’t they seen me check my beeg, take a shot, or talk about lows and highs before? Guess not. Or they did and didn’t put two and two together.
- Relief: Things have been great with my diabetes lately– I’ve had no crisis or even difficult events that puts diabetes Out There in view. Phew!
- Amusement: LOLlerskates, me being so self-absorbed that I assume this thing that is so obvious to me is also obvious to them! Reality check, self, no one’s watching you that closely! Spotlight effect!
- Despair: Oh God, the running buddy didn’t notice because I never bring my meter and insulin on long runs. BECAUSE THEY’LL FREEZE AND STOP WORKING NOOOO WHEN WILL WINTER END.
Contrast this with a meetup last Thursday with Manny and Melissa of the Diabetes Hands Foundation, along with many other diabetics (and a few non-Ds to boot). Manny is stepping down as the Executive Director of DHF, and Melissa is the new Interim Executive Director. They were in NYC for various stakeholder meetings and (wisely) planned a social get-together. We hung out at a cafe in the East Village and ate and drank and talked for hours. A lot of the conversation I was involved in was about DHF now, DHF in the future, my work in healthcare, and running in this godforsaken winter. There was a lot of talk about advocacy and where our efforts are, and should be, channeled. And, of course, the usual conversational fodder like TV shows and daydreaming of winter vacations.
Melissa had someone take this happy, happy photo
The thread between these encounters is that there was very little talk of ME and MY diabetes. Which is nice. (Realization of point #3 and all that.) Not everyone needs to know. And time with my diabetes friends is better spent plotting about how to support the people who most need it.
(I realize it’s somewhat ironic to be saying this…..in a diabetes post…..on my personal blog…..”OH IT’S GREAT NOT TO TALK ABOUT ME! LET’S JUST DO IT SOME MORE.”)
In any case, I was delighted to see friends like Manny, Melissa, Maria Q, and others for the first time in years. I also met terrific people like Riva Greenberg & her husband Bou, and Marina of The Betes Org. I’m excited for the future of DHF and their ability to continue connecting and helping others, and I trust in them to be a voice for everyone with diabetes who wants to be part of the conversation.
I hope it’s less than a few years until I see all of them again! In the meantime, I’ll just continue plugging away until the next person asks, “Hey, what’s that beeping noise?”