Tag Archives: lifestyle

Stop Assuming You Know How I Feel

Not 24 hours ago did I read a blog post that kind of blew my mind. It wasn’t in the sense that I was exposed to something new and life-changing, but it connected the dots and made sense of a lot of commonalities that have society-changing results.

Heather Gabel, who I have yet to meet in person, writes in “The Things They Don’t Want to See” about people with disabilities and the assumptions made about them. Analogized through staring, the assumptions result as insults and are biased to those making them. I won’t butcher it anymore. If you want, read it.

This quote summed the whole thing up perfectly:

MY EXISTENCE IS NOT LIMITED TO THE IMAGINING OF WHAT IT MUST BE, BUT IT IS IMPACTED BY THE KNOWLEDGE THAT WHAT I DO TO SURVIVE CONSISTS OF THE THINGS THEY DON’T WANT TO SEE.

C’mon… how many times have you heard, “I don’t know how you can take shots every day. I wouldn’t be able to do it.” The typical response to this, if you’re anything like me is something like, “Trust me. You’d do anything in order to stay alive.”

I started thinking about situations like this– comments, questions, assumptions– where I was pigeon-holed. I mean, on top of the assumptions about being Latina, I also get assumptions from both sides about my diabetes. One is invisible, until I make them aware, whether it’s through answering their question about my insulin pump being a pager or in telling a story. The other is visible because of my features, tan skin and dark hair but also my last name and the languages I speak.

About four years ago, I developed vitiligo. It’s not necessarily tied to diabetes, but the fact that I have one autoimmune disease, I’m susceptible to more. While others have thyroid issues and celiac disease, I lose pigmentation of my skin. I’m saying this because it’s true: It’s not a big deal. Compared to diabetes and thyroid issues and all those other lovely autoimmune issues, vitiligo has no harmful effects besides horrendous sun burn. No pigmentation = no protection = very sensitive skin. I’m basically turning white. There have been super stars and super models with it, but who am I?

People don’t mind staring at me. Some ask if there is something wrong. Other’s ask if it’s temporary. Others just stare. Good thing I’m loud and present. I don’t mind answering questions because that person had the courage to ask about something that s/he assumes I’m sensitive about. I’m not.

A colleague of mine only addressed my vitiligo after I told him that I wasn’t born this way– which many also assume. “Can I ask you a question? That is, if you don’t mind me asking,” he said one day. I told him I didn’t care. This isn’t as bad as diabetes can get. I just don’t have color and my color, or lack thereof, shouldn’t be what makes people treat me differently. Isn’t that racism of some sort? Xenophobic?

No one will ever understand what it feels like to be the person who has assumptions made on the daily because she is Latina, has diabetes, is a woman and has vitiligo. Lucky for the rest of the world, you’ll never have to really guess how I feel. My face, tonality and diction speak for me. People make assumptions about me every day and in the end, I really don’t care because I know who I am. However, this still has to change.

I agree with Heather when she takes it down to the minute details. Encouraging your children to feel comfortable and telling them that people are different in so many different ways can one day help both sides. Don’t assume that we’re all sensitive, bitter or afraid, because we aren’t. We’re normal.

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Do you keep diabetes a secret?

Diabetes, as we all know, can’t be seen on a person. But wouldn’t it be cool if people with diabetes suddenly had purple eyes or lighting bolt shapes in their hair? It’d be even better if we developed some sort of superpower. I guess you can say, our superpower is the ability to manage our lives, to supercede any doubt, to live everyday like it’s our last because just about 50 years ago, it might have been. Thanks to modern medicine and technology, we’re able to live with diabetes for 50, 60, 75 plus years without question.

No, you can’t see diabetes. You can see actions though. You can watch someone check their blood sugar, take an insulin shot, swallow a pill, mentally count their carbs, program their pump to deliver a scheduled bolus and even adjust a basal rate. But seeing it, no. You can’t see beta cells being attacked, unless under a microscope and even then– I have no idea if that’s possible.

Unless someone sees my pump, they really don’t know that I have diabetes. We’ve been in that situation before– you know, when people think my pump is a pager or something of the like? I hate to break their heart when I tell them, no, I’m not a doctor.

A few years back, when I initially thought about writing this blog post, I read something that asked the question, “Where do you hide your pump?” I then proceeded to read comments that dissected the question and said things like, “I don’t hide it. I’m not ashamed.” Fair assessment. I never thought about “hiding” my pump either. But was that something I was doing when I strapped a band around my leg to clip the pump so that you couldn’t see I had it on when I wore a dress? Was that what I was doing when I clipped it to my bra so that I looked like Iron Man? Was the fact that I was trying to disguise it or camouflage it under or between something else actually “hiding”?

I then thought about the stories of people who hid the fact that they had diabetes on purpose. They thought they were a liability to their job. They were ashamed for not taking care of themselves (to an extent). They didn’t want to be different from their peers. They didn’t want anyone thinking they were different or were incapable of doing something.

I suppose that it is a choice to “come out.” There is a choice in talking about it all the time, in joining our online communities, in educating other people, even if it’s correcting the term “diabetic” to “people with diabetes.” We’re not defined by our inability to make insulin, but by the ability to supercede it and conquer the world through gifts we’ve been given by science and technology.

I guess I could choose to keep diabetes out of the conversation, but it’s created such a strong person through acceptance. I see so many strong people who discuss, bring to light and fight through issues that we all go through because we don’t make one measly little hormone. It’s such a tiny thing that has such a huge impact, and I’ve said it before.

Diabetes has given me the ability to believe in myself, it’s given me the voice to speak, it’s given me the drive to help. Diabetes has made me develop into the person that I am, although it doesn’t define who I am or will be. It’s helped to make me confident and knowledgeable. It’s tied into the rest of my communal beliefs and has only made me a more well-rounded person with abilities to lead, write, organize and make people understand.

Have I kept diabetes a secret? No. Have I hid my pump for fashion’s sake? Yes. But what you gonna do? I don’t think I’ll ever keep diabetes out of the equation. I don’t think you should either. Be proud. You’ve come this far and you have so much more to go.

 

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If I wasn’t diabetic…

If I wasn’t diabetic (Type 1, that is), I would probably weigh about 300 pounds. I’m not kidding.

If I wasn’t diabetic, I would probably love eating chocolate a lot more than I do now. Right now, I just think about it a lot, but don’t eat it. So it goes for many, many other foods.

If I wasn’t diabetic, I would probably not even THINK about working out. Actually, maybe I would.

If I wasn’t diabetic, I wouldn’t have to worry about waking up with the shakes in the middle of the night.

If I wasn’t diabetic, I wouldn’t know what wanting to pass out felt like.

If I wasn’t diabetic, I would know much less about how my body works.

If I wasn’t diabetic, Type 1, I’d probably be Type 2 by now.

If I wasn’t diabetic, a part of me thinks I’d work out a lot more and skip out on a few meals without worrying about repercussions. But I can always do that now, right?

If I wasn’t diabetic, I wouldn’t have to worry about having a job with health insurance.

If I wasn’t diabetic, I wouldn’t have won my boyfriend over. He says that he liked me more because of the control and knowledge I had about the disorder my body carries. I wouldn’t be different if I wasn’t diabetic.

If I wasn’t diabetic, I would have chosen to travel the world instead of staying in one place.

If I wasn’t diabetic, I would have joined something like the Peace Corps, if not the Peace Corps.

If I wasn’t diabetic, I wouldn’t have to worry about getting yelled at by my doctors.

If I wasn’t diabetic, I wouldn’t always be lectured by my doctor.

If I wasn’t diabetic, my life would not be run by numbers.

If I wasn’t diabetic, I wouldn’t have knowledge about technology, medicine, health or a variety of other topics that are affecting people all around me all the time.

If I wasn’t diabetic, Kikisbetes.com wouldn’t exist, nor would @kikisbetes.

If I wasn’t diabetic, learning about new exercise moves would not be a priority.

If I wasn’t diabetic, I wouldn’t have to always count carbs.

If I wasn’t diabetic, I would be eating more tortillas.

If I wasn’t diabetic, I wouldn’t exactly worry about how much grasa actually went into my food.

If I wasn’t diabetic, I would be eating a lot more pan dulce, drinking Jarritos, scarfing down chicharrones and drinking atole every weekend.

If I wasn’t diabetic, I wouldn’t find a need to inform people of the health issues that may hinder them in the future.

If I wasn’t diabetic, there would be no looking up carbs in beer and worrying about “how to drink.”

If I wasn’t diabetic, I wouldn’t have to wear the Medic Alert bracelet that you see in the photo above.

If I wasn’t diabetic, I wouldn’t have to worry about my process of having children.

If I wasn’t diabetic, I wouldn’t have to worry about seeing six to seven different doctors in a year.

If I wasn’t diabetic, I wouldn’t have to worry about medical bills, keeping up on my supplies for medication and making sure to see the doctor every three months.

If I wasn’t diabetic, I wouldn’t have to worry about losing my feet or my sight.

If I wasn’t diabetic, my motivation would be writing and writing only.

If I wasn’t diabetic, I wouldn’t be one of the five percent of people diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.

If I wasn’t diabetic, I wouldn’t completely collapse every time I get a simple cold.

If I wasn’t diabetic, I wouldn’t have as many writing opportunities as I do now.

If I wasn’t diabetic, I would be a little more normal.

If I wasn’t diabetic, I wouldn’t always have to convince myself that diabetes isn’t a limitation.

If I wasn’t diabetic, though, I don’t think I would be me. All of these little things that have shaped me over the years have kept me sane, healthy and alive. Every day, diabetes is being less of a limitation for me. I know there are ways to do all the things I’ve ever wanted to do and just like the next person who doesn’t have diabetes, I’m being limited by much more than just having this disease.

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