One of the first things I had to deal with when I became a diabetic was a simple but confounding problem. It never is discussed when you receive The News that your life will change forever, but it quickly becomes an immediate issue. In short, it boils down to this: how do I keep up with all of this stuff?
Syringes, insulin vials, blood testing strips, lancets, rubbing alcohol, cotton balls, blood testing machine, etc. , a laundry list of items to help you maintain some semblance of a normal life that take up space and need to accompany you wherever you go. This doesn’t even include the additional necessities in case of emergency (i.e. food and drink) that add to the total, all in the name of combatting the relentless sugar monster. For years I tried to streamline as much as I could so I wouldn’t have to resort to the dreaded next step, but then I finally gave in. Yep. Me, a virile, active, 43 year old man desperately trying to hold onto to whatever cool I had left, swallowed my pride and surrendered to practicality.
I got a purse.
Or a handbag, if you prefer. (I do.) Regardless of the name, I carry it with me everywhere I go. Since I transitioned from daily injections to the Omnipod three years ago, I have been able to leave the syringes, among other items, at home, but the bag has been great at housing my PDM, an extra Pod if needed, a snack, a drink, not to mention other things I carry such as wallet and car keys. The bigger issue, though, was an internal one.
Will I be laughed at? Will people make fun of me? Will I get tired of always having to humor those who can’t sympathize with my plight?
It sounds silly for a grown man to say that, I know; your health is more important than anyone’s opinion. But one of the residual things about being a diabetic is how seemingly normal you are to the outside world until you have to reveal your vulnerabilities. Maybe it’s the co-worker’s awkward smile when you’re rambling incoherently as your blood sugar drops. Or your child’s wince as you agitatedly yell in an overblown response as your blood sugar soars. Having to excuse yourself to go to the bathroom to prick your finger for a glucose check. Asking with an OCD-like paranoia about what the meal schedule will be on a trip. In those moments, slowly, who you are is more than what you appear to be. For some, it’s very disconcerting. I have been extremely fortunate to have family and friends who are supportive, and I have been proactive in trying to control the narrative of what it means to be diabetic, to be different. Even down to the purse…err, I mean handbag.
By the way, I chose a simple black handbag. Classic and coordinates well with my outfits. (: