The other day, I, (possibly stupidly), weighed in on a Facebook conversation. A friend was taking a battering for having said that she really didn’t think that having diabetes was all that dire, and that she tries to focus on the positives.
My friend is a smart cookie and she certainly didn’t need anyone to swoop in to defend her. I just wanted to add my opposition to the growing number of people who were having a go at her for daring to say that, in her opinion and experience, diabetes is not that bad.
I frequently say that diabetes doesn’t stop me from doing anything. I acknowledge that sometimes, there is a little extra work that goes in – some extra forward planning. But diabetes hasn’t stopped me from much at all.
Is this one of those incredibly privileged-white-ivory-tower comments from someone who is living without diabetes complications and can access whatever care she chooses to manage her diabetes?
But does that make my experience and they way I feel any less important or real?
I know that I am very fortunate when it comes to the diabetes care available to me. And with my support networks and a healthcare system that provides me with affordable insulin and subsidised supplies. I know that all of this makes my opinion of life with diabetes different to many others in the world.
But, quite frankly, I don’t think that this is what those in this particular conversation who were complaining about how hard it is to live with diabetes were talking about. I don’t think they are talking about the problems with access to healthcare. The thing that kept coming out in the conversation the other day was how awful it is that people in the general community don’t understand what it’s like to live with diabetes each day; that they have to deal with ignorance about diabetes. Oh, and that they can’t be an astronaut.
I am not belittling or minimising how others feel about their particular life with diabetes. And at no time did I (or my friend) say that diabetes doesn’t suck. Of course it does – we all would love a cure and for diabetes to go away.
The thing that struck me was how my friend was expected to justify her positive feelings. It was almost that she was not allowed to say that she felt okay about living with diabetes. Or that her experience – her positivity – wasn’t as valid as those who don’t feel so good. When I jumped on board, I felt that I was treated the same way.
There is no right way to feel about living with diabetes. Some people feel okay about it and their experience is that it impacts minimally on their life. Others feel it is a great burden. Some of us oscillate between the two, depending on how we are coping and feeling at one particular time.
But no one has the right to say that anyone else’s feelings are less acceptable.
For the most part, I don’t think that diabetes has impacted all that much on many aspects of my life. Sure, if my beta cells hadn’t decided to run off to the Bahamas or wherever they have gone, I wouldn’t be writing this blog, but I’d probably be writing another one (about a far more interesting topic like, I don’t know, ‘baking with bacon’*). And I might not be working for a diabetes organisation, but I’m pretty sure I’d still be doing the same sort of work – just with a different focus.
I can be accused of looking at diabetes through rose-coloured glasses, or not really understanding just how tough it can be. I can be told that until I develop complications that make me consider how limiting this condition can truly be, I should just keep my happy thoughts to myself.
But it’s how I see it. My glass is half-full.
At least it is today.
*Note to self – register blog: ‘Baking with Bacon’.