Off topic: Why I don’t talk about my illness:
Sorry, this is going to be an off topic one. No handy guide or resource today.
I want to talk about something that came up very recently and why I don’t talk about it. Its not blindness…I want to talk about diabetes.
Some back story:
I got diabetes when I was 17 years old, at one of the most difficult points in my life. I was right in the middle of college, doing reasonably well for someone my age, working toward a distinction level BTEC qualification in IT. So it’s fair to say that 8 days in hospital and 4 weeks recovery – yes, it really takes that long – was a bit of a blow. Not only that, but I still had to catch up on assignments, complete course work, and keep up with a new diet and medication routine, as well as try and have my social life which was, at the time, still developing.
But that’s enough sob story, that’s not why I’m writing.
So yes, I’m blind. Yes, I’m a diabetic. As my lovely and brilliant key worker at this college likes to say, “We walk with the gremlin every day.” She’s a diabetic too, just in case you couldn’t tell.
So picture this.
I’m in line for food. My blood sugars are a little low, so doing the sensible thing, I go to the front and just ask for some food to take with me since waiting in line would mean finding a table, sitting down, and that could take around 15 minutes. That’s fine, right?
Here’s something people don’t really understand.
Diabetes is invisible, but it’s also embarrassing. Really, really embarrassing. All you non-diabetics, imagine sitting down at a table, taking out an insulin pen…Only to be asked to leave because you’re ‘shooting up drugs’. This didn’t happen to me, but I do know someone whom it did happen to. It’s the same principle here.
I didn’t particularly want to broadcast that I had low blood sugars. At the time, I felt okay, but I knew I wouldn’t be if I didn’t eat, and soon. It’s difficult to explain, but you sort of have an affinity for how your body reacts to the changes in sugar. Of course, it can have visible effects. That’s when I request that I have help because I know that I need it.
That’s all well and good.
But nobody likes saying “I don’t feel okay”.
We shouldn’t feel embarrassed to, but we do. Because those stories? The discrimination? The people turned away because they weren’t allowed to bring in medical items?
They’re all true.
And they’re all horrible.
So please. I’m begging you…
Just think. Because if you work in customer service, and someone moves to the front, and they look unsteady…
They might be suffering. And you might be the one that helps.
Because all I got today? Rudeness. Glared at, from behind the counter. And I felt horrible.
I don’t want anybody to go through that.