Remember the movie “Mean Girls?” When Lindsey Lohan was still attractive and relatively innocent? In the movie, the voice over of Lindsey’s character Cady often references what she calls “word vomit”. Word vomit happens when you know you should stop talking, but you can’t. You then involuntarily “vomit” the words out of your mouth just like actual vomit.
Lately, I’ve been put in “new” situations. I started a new job, met some new people, and just generally tried to create a new life for myself here in my home town. I find myself in situations where I have to describe my diabetes to people. And while I always try to keep it simple, their human nature always causes the word vomit to arrive.
And by this I mean, they ask questions. Usually, only a few. But I always overshare once the questions come. I’ve caught myself explaining what insulin does in the body, the difference between type 1 and type 2, why I can eat whatever I want, when and how I was diagnosed, and other things that I am sure these people didn’t mean to have me explain when they thought up these questions.
It’s not that I don’t want awareness, it’s just that I think that for most people, a simplified version of what type 1 is and how it’s different from type 2 should suffice, especially at work. I need them to know that I can’t go off insulin if I lose 50 lbs and that if I pass out they need to force feed me sugar or inject me with glucagon and call an ambulance. That’s where I feel like it should stop. Because one, I don’t really care about the ins and outs of other diseases, in general. I might get curious one day, for the sake of my future nursing/dietetics degree, but in general, I really am not all that interested. Maybe that’s evil, but it’s the truth.
Secondly, a lot of things about diabetes are very personal, and the last thing I want anyone to do is to stereotype all type 1 diabetics with the problems I have to deal with. For one, being overweight as a PWD is hard no matter which type you have, because people automatically assume you “did this to yourself.” Secondly, taking insulin makes it a little harder to lose weight. Between dealing with exercise lows, readjusting basals every 5 lbs, and the sheer way that insulin converts sugar to fat in your body makes things difficult. But that being said, that in no way means every type 1 diabetic is overweight. In fact, I am one of very few T1s I know who is overweight. But that’s generalizing again, and that’s what I’m trying to avoid.
The moral of the story is, what is good info for the sake of awareness and where do we draw the line? I don’t want people thinking diabetes is some enormous burden I have that makes it impossible to have a normal life, but I don’t want them to think it’s a cakewalk either. Where’s the middle ground?
What do you think about this issue?
Love this question.
I tend to overshare on the Internet and undershare in real life.
I do sometimes find myself talking with friends and I notice that their eyes are glazed over and I realize that I’m ten minutes into a conversation about my insulin/carb ratio. But usually I save the intense diabetes talk for the close personal friends.
wow, you are so spot on, sarah!! i often think the reason i “word vomit” is this need to be understood. as if by over-explaining myself, somehow i will avoid the stereotyping coming from non-diabetics; the ever-so-slight judgments i sometimes sense (as you mentioned) and certainly, worst of all, their often misinformed “advice”. but then, i go on and on, and it starts to get overwhelming…on both people’s ends! AH! great post. 🙂
I under estimate unless people ask specific questions about things. I usuallytry to make it a point that I’ve had diabetes since I was a child & most people realize that means Type !, even if they don’t know what it’s called. I’m always so afraid of over sharing. So apparently I have the opposite problem that you do…maybe we’ll both get it right & meet somewhere in the middle. Lol
I do the same thing and especially because I am an overweight type 1!
We have to try our best to get correct info out and if that means a little word vomit, so be it! IMHO.