Only Someone With Diabetes…

I wrote a blog entry a few weeks ago (maybe more?) about the potential feeling of isolation that comes with diabetes — the way we can be going crazy with no way to really explain what’s going on to friends and family. When our numbers are behaving erratically, it’s tough to explain what that actually means to our non-Diabetian friends. It’s tough to convey what that feels like, and give someone a true “window” into the day-to-day experience of diabetes.

Well, today I want to pick up on that same theme, but take it in a much lighter direction (while hoping to reach my 500 word minimum… 114 so far…). Feeling isolated when things aren’t going the way we want, or when our bodies’ seem to be behaving badly on us, is one end of the spectrum. But sometimes diabetes can give us light moments, moments of humor. And those moments can feel kind of like an inside joke. Along with all of the frustrating moments, there are funny moments, triumphant moments, and insightful moments that only we get to experience.

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What got me thinking about this was my morning bike ride yesterday. I teach at a music school that’s about nine miles from my home. When the weather permits, I like to ride to and from work. Weather permitted yesterday (well, kind of… It was a bit colder than I had anticipated, making my evening commute home rather bone-chilling. Still, good dry biking weather overall…), so I rode. About halfway through I felt kind of low, so I stopped and checked. Sure enough, I was 65. So, I reached into my bag and got three Fig Newtons to bring my blood sugar back up.

As I was sitting there munching from the package of cookies (I just grabbed the whole package on my way out the door since I was in a rush), I noticed a few people giving me looks of, “huh?” And of course, from their perspective, it must have looked very strange. Here I was, in my biking gear, helmet on, sitting by my bike along the path where bikers and joggers go to exercise, eating cookies straight from the bag. It must have looked just completely out of place! Why is this guy biking to exercise, just to stop and shovel cookies in his face? Isn’t the whole point of exercising to lose weight and get healthy?

I couldn’t help but enjoy the moment. It was an inside joke that none of them could possibly be in on, and it lightened my morning quite a bit.

Later the same day, I had another moment that only a Diabetian Club Member can have. Aside from the low during the bike ride, yesterday was just a stellar numbers day. I’ve had plenty of maddening numbers days, as have all of us. Those days are no fun. Those are the days when you can feel isolated and lonely with this disease. But yesterday was a brilliant day for my blood sugar. Ninety-seven in the morning, 98 after lunch, 97 after dinner, and 86 before bed (I went ahead and had a few crackers to be sure I’d be OK overnight). It was fantastic!

As I was sitting on the couch looking over my day in blood sugars, I realized that this simple little moment of triumph is quite a gift. Sure, I’d trade it in for a life without diabetes — we all would. But since I seem to be stuck with diabetes, I might as well appreciate the little moments it does offer, and that was one of them. Most people don’t get the chance to appreciate something so “ordinary,” or so basic, as a day of great blood sugars. It’s on a level most people don’t pay attention to. We Diabetians have to pay attention to it, and sometimes that lets us have moments of appreciation that most of the world doesn’t even know exist!

Diabetes isn’t something any of us would have signed up for voluntarily. And we’d all happily trade in our memberships. But that doesn’t mean there is nothing positive to be found here. Diabetes gives us some great moments that others simply can’t experience — jokes they’re not in on, triumphs they’ll never be able to really appreciate, and insights they won’t have. Diabetes is many things, and it can be a monster sometimes. But remember to appreciate these good moments, too. After all, we’re stuck with this thing. We might as well enjoy the benefits!

(755 words! Yes!!)

  • David4Peace

    Nice story Scott. Happy New Year to you!

  • Laura

    This is a great story. There have been many insider jokes that I have had occasion to laugh – not the least being random candy eating in what must seem like strange circumstances. (Also, way to go – that was a stellar numbers day!)

  • RAWLCM

    There are a lot of people who think they understand diabetes but don’t. Although it’s been discussed on this site before, education for friends and family of diabetics should be more widely available. I think most of us have been confronted by a well-meaning person who assumes diabetics can’t eat any form of sugar, ever. When I tell them it’s more of a balancing act than a prohibition, the frown and imply I’m making that up so I can have a cookie.

  • Ibbaker

    Love that story. After 51 yrs. as a member of the Club, I certainly have those days when the stars align in my favor with good “numbers” and I do my victory dance! Then again, the next day is a whole new experience and you realize that all you can do is the best you can do. We keep truck in’ along and humor always helps.