I Didn't Want to Know You
Today is November 1st, the kick-off of Diabetes Awareness Month. This month means many different things to many different people. And today I realized, that it means something different to me than it used to.
Sarah Lucas from Beyond Type 1 and a crew from Omnipod were ringing the closing bell at NASDAQ this evening, so I ran over to Times Square to see Henry’s face the size of a skyscraper. When I popped up out of the subway and rounded the corner on Broadway, I looked up… and immediately started to cry.
I sort of surprised myself. WTF? Why are my eyes leaking? Is it because as a (sort of) New Yorker I have just found myself in the middle of our collective nightmare aka Times Square? No, that wasn’t it. Besides, I had plans to treat myself to Sephora after. It also wasn’t because I felt sad, or angry that there’s still no cure after 94 years of treating type 1’s with insulin.
It was because 11 years ago when I was thrown on to this insane, diabetic roller coaster, I wouldn’t have even known who Henry was. I would have never given Beyond Type 1 a chance. And I certainly wouldn’t have gone to Times Square to be a part of it. Back then, absolutely not one person that I knew or cared to know, spoke my new language. And I didn’t speak the existing language of the disease. But here I was, a decade later, staring up at it in giant flashing pixels, 15 stories high in the center of the universe.
No one knew the fear that came with hiding my brand new insulin pump in my night stand so guys wouldn’t ask questions I didn’t know how to answer yet.
No one knew the frustration when I was helplessly late for class or work because an inexplicable blood sugar incident held me back 15 minutes in time, and 15 universes in cognitive presence.
No one understood my rationale for developing a serious aversion and later anxiety of staff meetings and long lines at TJ Maxx because of one bad low.
No one knew how maddening it was to be told, “sorry, no more refills” on a prescription you pay out the ass for, but need to survive a mere 4 hours, when, at the counter to your right a guy is picking up his $1 pain pills for f*cking a headache.
Now at age 28, I’ve never been prouder to be “associated” with anyone. I’ve never enjoyed the company of and conversation with any other community more than my fellow diabetic buddies. I’ve learned so much from every single one of you. We understand each other. And because of the supportive nature of this language that we all speak, I’ve accepted that diabetes is not a death sentence at all, it’s actually a life sentence.
Because I finally cracked the language barrier, I’ve been able to reinvested so much positivity into myself that I never had before you. And for that, I am incredibly grateful. I’m truly sorry for all of those years that I avoided and misunderstood you. For assuming that because I didn’t ask to be a part of your world, that your world was a horrible, scary, flavorless place. I’m sorry for thinking you’d ruin me, or make me less capable. I’m sorry for assuming that you all wore gross socks. That was particularly rude of me. I am so glad that after all the horrible things I thought and misconceived, you still embraced and let me in. I didn’t want to know you. But now because I know you, I actually know myself.
NOW (ESPECIALLY IF YOU’RE A PERSON WITHOUT DIABETES), GO HUG SOMEBODY WITH DIABETES, THEY PROBABLY REALLY, REALLY, REALLY, REALLY NEED YOU AND WANT YOU TO KNOW THAT EVEN IF YOU DON’T SPEAK THEIR LANGUAGE, YOU’RE AT LEAST WILLING TO BE THERE.