There are questions about my diabetes and celiac disease that I inevitably get asked.
When people ask you how "your diabetes is going," how do you answer? When someone new finds out I have diabetes, I am ready for three questions that inevitably follow- the first question usually involves the amount of time I've had it ("did you get it as a kid? how long have you had it?"). The 2nd question evolves around diagnosis ("how did you know you had it?" "what were your symptoms?" "does it run in your family?") and the third question is always the one I dread the most- it evolves around how my diabetes is being managed ("how's the diabetes going?" "is it well managed?"). When people ask that, especially someone you don't know well, how do you answer? Do you give them the dirty low down details? Do you breeze over the question altogether? There's this balance I always want to strike when answering that question; I want people to know the level of dedication it takes to manage this disease, but I don't want to terrorize them, either. I feel in the past, I've done both. I've sometimes glossed over the question with an answer like "Oh, it's going fine" and other times I have given TMI and you can see the confusion/horror on their face. So then I realize I wonder if that 3rd question is actually just a hypothetical question, to be polite? Maybe it's a question like "How are you doing?" The type of question that people don't realllly want to know that you just got dumped, your dog is sick, your car broke down, fill in the blank, etc. They just want you to say "I'm doing fine, thanks for asking," so they can move on to their next task. And then there's the task of deciphering who wants the details and who doesn't. I'm guessing the sales clerk at Macy's didn't want to know about your blood sugar issues when she asked you how your day was going.
I was asked this question by my manager when I told her I had diabetes a few weeks back. I wasn't sure how to answer- I didn't want to scare her with details that might make her think I was going to be a "problem" employee, but I also didn't want her to think it was a breeze and would never interfere with my work. Taken off guard, I think I leaned toward the side of having her believe it would never be a problem, out of fear of being a new employee and worried what she would think of me. Diabetes makes me very self-conscious.
I wish I didn't care what people thought. I wish their assumptions didn't hurt. I wish I had a disease I could keep to myself and not tell anyone about. But that is not the case.
Usually my celiac disease diagnosis is a little easier to hide, at least from strangers. People won't usually find out about it until there is a food-related event, and even then sometimes you can get away with not mentioning it if you don't want to. Until you go out to a restaurant and grill the poor waiter about ingredients, food handling and cross contamination. Celiac disease is difficult to answer questions about. The hardest question I get is "What happens when you eat it?" The reason that I don't enjoy answering this question is because there is no polite way to describe the digestive symptoms it causes. I'm not one to blurt out to strangers "Oh, it gives me the scoots." Nothing like telling a stranger about your bloating, diarrhea and gas problems. I try to glaze over the gross parts and focus about the damage it causes to my small intestine.
At the same time, when I am asked questions about one of my diseases, I don't want to miss an opportunity to educate someone and give them the CORRECT information about the disease, versus the stereotypes they'll likely hear later.
- I'm a glass-half-full type 1 diabetic/celiac with a C5 spinal cord injury and life-altering allergies. I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, grave's disease and celiac disease in 2010, a spinal cord injury resulting in a spinal cord fusion at the C5 level in 2012 (resulting in chronic pain and life-long physical restrictions) and bad ass allergies in 2013. I believe having a positive attitude is the only way to live with disease and injury. I also believe that life doesn't have to be PERFECT for it to be WONDERFUL. Disease and injuries are expensive, so I live a frugal yet full life (I'm a fru"GAL"!) Please know I am NOT any sort of professional and am not giving professional advice. This is just my blog; my day-to-day story.