Thursday, October 13, 2005

Life as a Diabetic

It is interesting to me to talk to other diabetics. Or, perhaps I should say, persons with diabetes? (I'll get to that in a moment.)

I've found that when I find someone who shares my disease, our conversations tend to revolve around common experiences related to that disease. I suppose that's only natural. My wife's aunt, for example, has Type 1 diabetes. We are loads of fun to be around when we're together. We monopolize the topic of conversation, discussing such entertaining concepts as, "Do you bolus before you eat, or after?" As you can imagine, we are the life of any family gathering.

But, ironically, outside of those relationships, my discussion and reference to diabetes in my life is rather minimal. I guess I don't see myself as my disease. While I refer to myself as a diabetic, in actuality, I'm not. Sure, I have the disease, and I live with its implications daily. But, more or less, I choose not to be seen as a diabetic. I'd much rather be seen as a good husband and father, or a software engineer, or singer, or any other multitude of labels. Being a diabetic is only one small aspect of my life. No point in drawing special attention to it.

I'm not a victim of diabetes. I'm not different. At least, I'm not any more different from anyone else because of my diabetes than they are different from me for any other reason. After all, if I know someone with cancer, they don't become known to me as a "malignant" or any other such term. They have cancer, but they are foremost a person who shares many hopes and dreams, as well as has many other differences.

When I introduce myself to someone, I don't offer my hand and say, "Hello. My name is Ryan, and I'm a diabetic." The fact that I'm a diabetic (or diabetic, or a person with diabetes) rarely comes up at all. I'd rather not be known as "the diabetic who is writing a book" or "the diabetic who has a blog" or "the diabetic who usually fails miserably at being funny".

Consider actor Victor Garber or actress Halle Berry. They are not known as diabetics. Yet, they are diabetics.

I may live my life as a diabetic, but I don't have to be defined as one.


Gina said...


I really like what you had to say in your post... Its funny how everyone thinks differently. I am at a point right now where finally I can say I am just the same as everyone else is. But, it has taken me 5 years to think this way.

Sandra Miller said...

Ryan, I like what you say here as well.

My 10-yr old son was diagnosed one year ago. Just last week, as we were preparing to give a talk about diabetes to his classmates, he told me that "diabetes isn't really a part of who I am, mom. It's just something I do... something I deal with."

I couldn't agree more.

RyanBruner said...


Your son was diagnosed at the same age I was, it sounds like. Except I've had diabetes for 23 years, now.

He has a good attitude. I see a similar attitude in my oldest son who has some severe food allergies. He has accepted it. But, there are still times when the tedium of it wears on you. I'm sure your son will go through similar times. I know I did!

mdmpls said...

Ryan -
I love what you said about life as a Diabetic! I know I have the disease, but it definitely is not my defining characteristic! (But I also find that conversations with other diabetics do tend to head in the same directions as yours!)

Maybe someday none of us will be Diabetics any longer!


AmyT said...

Hi Ryan,

Couldn't agree more! Although I'm a bit obsessed with the diabetes thing at the moment...

Visit me some time at