As mentioned on twitter, I spent this week at church camp with my boyfriend and about 100 other people. We haven’t been to this camp in about 3 years. Three years ago, we worked there together and count it as the place where we fell in love. Two summers ago, it was hit by an F5 tornado and all of the camps that year were canceled except the one that had already happened. Most of the trees were lost, all buildings except two were damaged. Every cabin had to be replaced. The boyfriend spent last summer in Texas and we didn’t attend camp. This year was our first year back since we spent the summer there together.
Three years ago, I didn’t check my sugar much, I took insulin after I ate (sometimes several hours) and I just generally didn’t manage my diabetes. It didn’t come up much in conversation. This year, when people asked what I am doing with my life these days, I explain to them that I am going to school to be a registered dietitian and eventually a certified diabetes educator, I have diabetes.
What I discovered was the vast, vast, vast amount of people living with type 2 diabetes. One day, I was wearing my ADA shirt that says “stop diabetes” and an older gentlemen thought it said “stop diabetics.” He said, “Are you going to stop me?” I responded, “I would never want to stop diabetics, I am diabetic! But I do want to stop diabetes!”
What made me upset was the amount of misconception, misunderstanding, and unmotivation I encountered. I have two distinct stories that stand out in my mind. I won’t get into detail on one because the family involved is very close to my boyfriend, but when I talked to a woman’s son about her relatively new condition I was heartbroken at the way she was treating herself. But I totally understand, I was myself in some level of disease denial for 10 years. It made me sad because I could see in the way she carried herself that she was not feeling too well. It just made me want to pursue my dreams even more because I know that with proper training I can help people like her live normal lives, be healthy, and spend more time with their families.
The second story kind of makes me laugh. When one lady asked me what I was doing with my life at dinner, I gave her the standard response: going to school, nutrition, diabetes education, blahblahblah. When I was done talking, another older woman sitting a few seats down the table said, “I’d like your email address. I’d like to send you some information on diabetes.”
My initial reaction my have been hasty and rude, but I said exactly what I was thinking. “Well, I appreciate it, you can send it to me, but I’ve been living with it for 11 years.” She responded, “Well, this is a different perspective.”
I thought, hmm. What could she possibly mean? I ignored it for a while but later I got to thinking about it. A couple meals later, I got a clue. I was standing in line, talking to one of the people I had found out over the course of the week also had diabetes. I told him about a dream I had had. “I dreamed that I invented some creme puffs with insulin inside them. The insulin helped our bodies not process the carbs.” (I have no idea if this is possible but I totally dreamed it). The woman was standing behind us. She responded, “Well, those would work for those of us who can’t control it with diabetes.” She said this in her old lady, I know everything, judgmental tone. Yeah, I figured. She either was uneducated on diabetes topics or didn’t bother to ask what type of diabetes I have. I suppose I could control my diabetes with diet. If I jogged 24 hours a day and didn’t eat. Ever. (Obviously this is a joke. Even then my body would need some level of insulin. And sleep. And food.)
Anyway I actually had a great time at camp, and my diabetes stayed relatively under control except on Saturday when I decided to eat biscuits and gravy, which since I have not yest mastered the biscuit and gravy bolus was horrible idea, but believe me, I enjoyed them.