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Two years ago today, I wrote my favourite ever post about one of my favourite ever diabetes encounters with one of my favourite ever people with diabetes. I met this kid just once and spoke with her for only a short time, but I often think about her and wonder if she is running a country, or at least her school, by now. I don’t doubt she is.
Anyway, when the link came up on my TimeHop app today, I reread it and it made me smile. Again. I hope that you enjoy it, too. (The original post and reader comments can be found here.)
A couple of weeks ago, I met a young child with diabetes. This was one cute kid who was clearly going to be boss of the world when she grew up. And a zoo keeper. I know this because she told me as much.
She has lived with type 1 diabetes for over half her life – she told me that too. And she also told me that now, as a big grade one kid, there were things that she was doing to take care of her diabetes on her own.
‘Want me to show you?’ She asked me.
‘You bet!’ I said.
She checked her BGL for me, talking me through it. ‘I use this to get the blood out of my finger. And then the blood goes here. Did you hear that beep? And here is the number. It says 8. That means I don’t need to do anything right now.’
Then she went off on a tangent and counted to 125 for me, which I told her was very impressive.
She showed me her pump and was very excited when I showed her mine, although disappointed that mine was boring and charcoal while hers was covered in a bright pink skin. ‘You should buy one for your pump. Your pump is not very interesting. It would be much nicer if you looked at something bright instead of boring. And more fashionable.’ I think she tut-tutted me as she shook her head at my lack of inventiveness when it came to pump decoration.
I won back some points when I showed her the bright purse I keep my meter in. ‘I guess that’s nice,’ she told me, and then found something else to show me.
‘I eat these lollies sometimes when I am low. My teacher has a big jar of them in the cupboard in the classroom. She has to keep them on the top shelf because I caught Matty eating them one day. He got in trouble, but it’s not his fault that he doesn’t know that I need them when I go low. Where do you keep your lollies?’
I told her that I have them in my bag, usually. And on my bedside table. ‘In a jar with a blue lid’, I explained, suddenly desperate to win some cred with this kid!
She nodded and seemed to approve of this answer. ‘Blue is okay,’ she announced.
‘Do you know that I am going to be a zoo keeper when I grow up?’ She asked me.
‘That sounds like a great idea and a very cool job,’ I said, and I told her that I have always wanted a pet tiger.
‘You can’t have a pet tiger,’ she said, sternly. ‘They are not good pets. You should know that.’
I told her she was right.
‘If I’m not a zoo keeper, I might be a doctor. I’ll help kids with diabetes. That would be good too.’
‘Sure,’ I said. ‘Maybe you might find a cure for diabetes.’
She looked at me with what I can only describe as the sassiest look I have ever seen.
She shook her head. And spoke to me very slowly, like I was a bit simple, staring at me straight in the eye.
‘Why does everyone think that a cure is the best thing? As long as I can be a zoo keeper, I don’t care about having diabetes. Tigers don’t care if I have diabetes.’
This kid? She is 6 years old. And she has it together more than most adults I know.
A couple of weeks ago, I spent a very uncomfortable hour talking to someone who was telling me that the very idea of sending any sort of health aid to another country was horrendous because the situation here in Australia is so dire. They went on to say that the refused to support programs helping people in other countries access insulin and diabetes supplies because that was the responsibility of the government of that country.
I’ve thought about the conversation a lot. And then today, on my TimeHop app, this post from last year came up. I wish I had remembered these words then because I sat there mute after trying to explain why it’s important that we help others who are not as fortunate as we are here in Australia and being cut off and told I didn’t know what I was talking about. I decided that there was simply no point in trying to argue.
So today, I thought I’d share the post. Remembering to look outside our own bubble is always important, And today -especially today – it seems even more critical.
I speak a lot about the challenges of living with diabetes. Sometimes, the challenges don’t directly relate to me, but I can still see and understand that the diabetes experience is different to anyone and one person’s easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy is another person’s anxiety- and stress-inducing concern.
One of the things that perplexes and annoys me is people who are unable to see diabetes outside of their own bubble. Frequently these people fail to see that just because they don’t need information about <insert topic here> that doesn’t mean everyone has access to or an understanding of it.
Sometimes, when I was involved in running an activity or speaking about a topic at an event, people say that they have never had any problems with that, so why would we speak about it – completely ignoring the fact that for lots of people living with diabetes this is an issue that is of concern.
I ‘work in diabetes’ (which sounds ridiculous, but you know what I mean) and the last person’s diabetes that gets considered when I am at work and thinking of developing programs is my own. If I thought, for one minute, that my experience of living with diabetes mirrors most others, then I’d be utterly naïve and not doing my job. That’s why working and engaging with, and listening to as wide a range of people affected by diabetes as possible is critical to delivering services that are of use.
(Because, let’s be honest, if it really were all about me, I’d spend lots of time and effort working with the leather crafters at Hermes to help me design a perfect diabetes bag. Because: shallow. And lots of stuff.)
And you know if you just rolled your eyes at that last comment because you have found (or designed) the perfect bag and think it is waste of time to speak about it because it doesn’t affect you, then a) stop it, and b) can you tell me where to get one? Thanks.
With World Diabetes Day next week, it’s a great time to think about how others deal with diabetes, what they know, what they don’t, what their concerns may be.
If I only cared about what was going on in my diabetes bubble, I wouldn’t write so much about campaigns like #Insulin4All. You can read all about the campaign here, and my post about it during the lead up to 2014’s WDD.
I have never had trouble accessing insulin. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t care about those who do.
The work year is coming to a close (yay!), and with only a couple of days left in the office and all my spare time stressing about my lack of Xmas prep, I am revisiting some old posts.
And because I am looking at ways to continue my procrastination, today, I’m looking back to December 2012 and a game involving the alphabet. Have fun!