Sometimes I feel very angry or sad about my diabetes (and gluten intolerance!), but a lot of the time I just feel kind of numb about it, like it's something happening to someone else, and I'm just sitting by and thinking, "Well, that sucks."
The truth is, I don't know what I feel a lot of the time, and that can make for some awkward situations.
A few weeks ago I met an old friend from college for lunch (an old flame, actually). We had about 20 years to catch up on, so of course I had to mention the diabetes. To me, it was just an update — like "hey, I have 3 kids now!" — but to him it was something else entirely. His smile disappeared. And I watched in slow motion as his lips mouthed the words, "I'm sorry."
I kind of froze.
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Yes, of course you are. That's the right response; I know it is. So why do I feel like screaming?
I can't explain it, but that "sorry" threw me for a loop.
I know it was meant to be empathy / sympathy. I know he meant it in the best possible way. I wasn't even angry at him.
I think I was angry for being reminded that diabetes is something to feel sorry about.
Because I've worked my ass off not to look at it that way.
I wake up every morning genuinely excited to connect with the #DOC, find new diabetes stories that are hopefully fun to write about, and generally enjoy the glow of doing everything I can to be a helpful patient advocate in world where many exciting things are happening on this front.
And yet... there are times when I just burst into tears — like at a restaurant with my family recently where almost nothing on the menu was suitable for me to eat. What the heck? I should be used to this by now. So I can't have the crab cakes because they're coated in flour... get over it, Amy!
There are days when I just "lose it" with anger; rip off my beeping pod and hurl it at the ground; use a lot of choice words when my meter shows me another number over 200, or a 50 just when I'm ready to take off for a run!
I can hate on diabetes really hard. I can wallow in the sadness that comes with compromised health. I just choose not to... most of the time.
So why am I so intolerant of others hating on it, or grieving over it?
I guess it's like being able to trash-talk your own team, when no one else should.
But I don't want my loved ones to ignore it, either. Sometimes I think, "Wow, no one around here has even acknowledged this thing lately. I'm dealing with this crap all day, every day, and no one even notices?"
But when my hubby does try to be involved, like peeking at my meter before dinner and remarking over my 170 mg/dL, "Oooh, that's kind of high, isn't it?" I could just explode. No!!!! It's contextual, stupid.
It's incredibly unfair and unreasonable, I know. I can tell him I don't like him "judging my numbers," but I'm sure it just makes him uneasy about what might be the right thing to say in any given situation. And when I'm getting cranky before dinner because my BG level is dropping, how's he supposed to tell the difference between that and any other type of grumpiness or spat we might encounter?
Hell if I know.
All I know for sure is that I don't want sympathy. I don't need anyone to feel sorry for me (I can do that just fine myself, thank you). But I don't necessarily need the "fix-it" approach either: Loved Ones, I'd rather you just say something very simple and empathetic than actually try to make suggestions about specific diabetes actions.
What exactly should that something simple be? I had no idea, either, until last week, while we were all getting ready in the morning. My 9-year-old leaned into my lap, looked up into my eyes and said:
"You have to take those finger tests before every time you eat. And then take your medicine. That's not very nice."
I felt a lump forming in my throat. I wanted to bawl right there over my plate of soy bacon and eggs. Because I love her so much. And because I was happy! I think...
Oh, you perplexing Mixed Emotions.