Friday, March 31, 2006


Back when I was ten years old, a bit over a year after I had been diagnosed with diabetes, a friend of mine from church invited me to stay a few days with his family at Camp Dearborn. This was one of those places where they have a neighborhood of large tents big enough for a family of six or eight, plus buildings with showers and restroom facilities. It was more or less a recreational camp, with swimming, horseback riding, etc.

My parents let me go, and so I spent several days there having the time of my life. My poor mother, on the other hand...well, she had to drive out to the camp every day at seven in the morning to give me my insulin. Why? Because by this time I still hadn't learned to do it myself. Of course, as a ten-year-old who lived in his own little world, I never realized how much of a problem this was for her. Not until just recently, when I happened to drive past Camp Dearborn and realized just how far my mother had to go. Thirty minutes each way. Thanks, Mom!

I guess we don't always realize how our own health issues might be annoyances for others, as well. Like the time I worked at Little Caesars, and was asking why there were sausages on the wall because my BGLs had dropped so incredibly low. I was out of it, and I needed four people to get me safely to a friends house and treated.

Then there are the teachers throughout my school years who under normal circumstances wouldn't have to interrupt their flow for anything, yet had to make exceptions for me. "I'm having an insulin reaction" meant a trip down to the office, and thirty minutes of classtime missed, often straddling two hours, meaning I would have to go interrupt the next class to pick up my books before heading off to interrupt yet another class, arriving late and having to explain myself.

There are annoyances today, as well. I can pretty much treat myself for everything now. But I can't tell you how many times I walk in the door with pizza, go to sit down with the family to eat, only to remember I have a total of 2 units left in my insulin pump. So, I have to abandon the family and put in the new infusion set with 180 units of fresh insulin. They are done before I ever sit down.

Diabetes can be annoying. Like right now. I have this Medic Alert bracelet. As I type, it dangles from my wrist and rattles against the keyboard. But you learn to just live with it. I suppose it is a choice. Do I let myself see these as annoyances? Can I do anything to minimize these annoyances for other people?

Back in junior high school, we had support meetings with the five of us in the school with Type 1 diabetes. Once a month, we'd get together and discuss what bothered us, encouraged one another, even educated one another. There was one boy, however, who was angry. He didn't at all like how diabetes had interfered with his life. The annoyances it brought also brought depression and denial. The school nurse appointed me his mentor, and I tried to keep in touch with him throughout the school year. But at one point, he just decided he didn't have diabetes. He wasn't going to do it. He wasn't going to give himself the shots anymore. He wasn't going to watch what he ate. He was going to be normal.

Fortunately, he was still experiencing a bit of honeymoon period, so he didn't end up in the hospital immediately or anything. But I met with him and tried to make him see that denying it wouldn't make it go away. It was part of who he was, annoyances and all, and he needed to accept that or else he was going to kill himself.

I wish I knew what happened to him. While he ended up going back to taking insulin, and sort of eating okay, he was still depressed. Once I moved on to high school, I never saw him again.

But annoyances are a part of life, with or without diabetes. We can't let them interfere or get in the way of accomplishing the things in life we want.

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