Recently, I heard myself saying to a friend with diabetes that she really didn’t need to – and shouldn’t – apologise for diabetes, specifically, for needing to stop to check her BGL while we were mid-conversation.
‘Don’t apologise,’ I said to her. ‘It’s just part and parcel of diabetes.’
And then, I heard how often I do it.
‘Sorry – I just need to treat this low.’
‘Sorry, darling. Would you mind just grabbing me a juice box from over there?’
‘Sorry – I had a lousy night with crap high BGLs and hardly slept. Would you mind repeating what you said? I missed it. Sorry.’
‘Sorry – my pump is wailing at me. Let me just see what it wants.’
‘Sorry – my CGM is alarming. I need to calibrate…hang on a sec…’
‘Damn. I’m out of insulin. Sorry. I just need to refill my pump.’
‘Sorry for munching on these glucose tabs. I’m okay – just trying to ward of a low.’
‘Sorry. My brain is foggy! I think I might be low….’
Sorry. Sorry. Sorry. Sorry. Sorry. Sorry. Sorry. Sorry…
Why am I apologising for my messed up beta cells? I didn’t destroy them. (Actually – technically I guess that’s not true. My own body did kill them off. But it wasn’t deliberate on my part…This is all getting rather confusing, so let’s just agree that it’s not my fault that I have diabetes.)
Why do I say sorry for having to treat or manage or address the health condition I live with all day, every day, and do things that I only do to keep me well…and alive?
I’m not alone here. Many others do the same. I’ve sat in rooms with friends having nasty lows and heard them apologise over and over again as they treat and will their glucose levels to rise. We do it amongst ‘friends’ – others from our pancreatically challenged tribe who get it better than anyone else, and we do it with those who are not living with it.
When I apologise for my diabetes, I am making it sound like I have done something wrong – intentionally or accidentally. And that is never the case. I’ve never intentionally been low or high. And even if it could be considered an accident or something I could have prevented – perhaps over- or under-bolusing or forgetting to refill my reservoir before leaving home – it was never done with the aim of being disruptive to others. Or myself for that matter.
What I am also doing is apologising for diabetes inconveniencing others. And I am also saying it is something shameful. But I can’t do anything about having diabetes. And it is not shameful. I am certainly not ashamed of having diabetes.
I wonder if it is a case of good manners going too far. Manners are very important to me – I have instilled this in our kidlet who is frequently complimented for her beautiful manners. But manners are about courtesy and respect – and that respect is for yourself as much as others. I think I am actually being quite disrespectful to myself when I apologise for having to ‘do diabetes’.
My body, which really doesn’t like itself, is not a reason for me to say sorry. I do enough managing diabetes without having to feel the need to repent all the time. So I’m not saying sorry anymore. Well, I’m going to try, anyway!