Monday, July 22, 2013

Things aren't always as they appear

When I was about 7 months pregnant with Elise, I went to Costco to buy some water.  As the boxes were quite heavy, I needed help to get them into my cart.  I figured that when I got out to the parking lot, I could ask some capable-looking person to help me get them into my car.

Outside, I approached a middle-aged, normal-looking man and said, "excuse me!"

He ignored me and kept walking.  Not one to be timid, I tried again, louder.  "Excuse me!"

Reluctantly, he turned to look at me. Hesitatingly and rather impatiently, he replied, "yes?"

I told him that I needed some help getting the boxes of water into the trunk of my car, hoping he would take pity on me and my poor pregnant belly.

Relief washed over his face as he told me, "Oh!  No problem... I can do that!"  He paused, and then said, "I thought you were going to ask me for money."

I knew I wasn't dressed for tea with the Queen, but homeless?  Really?  When I got home, I looked in the mirror.  Doo-rag on my head, sweats, and no make-up (I don't wear it).  For him, that equaled someone who would be out pan-handling and not the 7-month suburban hausfrau that I was.

Diabetes is often like that.  My child is the picture of health.  When people learn for the first time that she has diabetes, they often 
exclaim, "but she looks so healthy!"

And she does.  And she is.

Except she has a disease that daily is battling inside her body.  I am thankful that diabetes rarely manifests itself physically, but I get frustrated with the people that equate that take that to mean it's no big deal.  Yes, my child looks healthy, but hardly anyone understands just how much hard work it takes to make it so.


  1. I have a hard time finding a balance between "I am healthy and I can do anything" and "Sometimes it comes in, pulls the rug out from under my feet and make itself known." It's an even harder thing to explain to people who do not have diabetes (or live with someone who does.)

  2. That's probably one reason why we get the "at least it's not cancer" comment.

    People only get glimpses, a blood sugar check here, a juice box there, and don't see the sleepless nights and data that we pour over trying to find ways to get it right. They just don't see all the behind the scenes work that it takes to try to manage diabetes or the mental toll it takes on us and our kids.

  3. dblogcheck-I really enjoy your blog. I agree-hard work. I struggle with the feeling my workplace doesn't understand. Why I have to be an hour late because my younger's site failed and she has large ketones.

  4. What an interesting story. Amazing how we, as a people, do that so often on so many things - make assumptions that something is what we think. Challenging those assumptions and what people think is a key. Thanks for writing this, Joanne!

  5. I agree 100%. While I'm so happy that I "don't look sick" it does make it hard for people to understand just how much work we put into diabetes.

  6. If only the inside battle matched the outside beauty and strength of PWD.

    So i gotta ask what did you respond when he said that!?

  7. the good ole 'don't judge a book by it's cover' thing is so spot on with D. looks can be so deceiving and totally cover up all the hard work that goes into this insane disease day in and day out!

    ...and I LOVE hausfrau!!

  8. Ugh - the judging. hate that. I mean with the sweat pants, no make-up part. I like to clean-up. I like to do my hair and put on some less baggy clothes but it all takes time and sometimes Id prefer to spend my time hangin with my kids, reading, writing, and cleaning house. I mean who wants to put on a full face and break out the hair gel to do laundry. Yet I feel it - the days I go to the gocery store in a hoody with my hair in a clip - I even find myself hoping I wont run into fellow PTA members. But homeless - that seems like a stretch.

    Going on to the invisible illness - I'm thankful my kids show no outward signs of diabetes or illness. I feel like they would be judged. Yes people occasionally notice their pumps - in fact my daughter got tired of the "is that a phone" type comments and went on a pump hiatus a couple years back - then she missed it and saw Kerri wearing her pump on her pocket and that was all it took for dd to put the pump back on.
    I worry about discrimination later in life for them. I try not to but I still do. So the invisibleness of it can be a good thing initially. But then there are the "they look so healthy", "at least its not - fill in the blank with another disease others feel would be worse" comments that make me want to list off all the work it takes on their (my kids) part to stay healthy.
    I do think things are changing - more and more people not in the D world are learning about diabetes. we keep talking and sharing and maybe one day people wont act so surprised that our kids and adults with D - look healthy - they will know about all the work it takes and also wont assume that because a person has diabetes they should look or be unhealthy.

  9. Most people don't understand. When I told a co-worker that we hope to have our daughter on a pump by the end of the year she said "oh that will be so easy, you won't have to do anything or worry anymore."

  10. I think this balance - both for myself as a T1, and for my daughter who also has T1 - is one of the hardest. I always seem to be walking a fine line of both expressing how important the details are and how much risk is involved (like to childcare providers), but also trying to express that she can do anything other kids can, that the pump & bg testing is pretty easy, etc. Great post.

  11. Diabetes isn't easy - and while I'm thankful I don't look sick, it doesn't mean I/we don't feel craptastic because of diabetes.
    But diabetes has made us strong and resilient & it's given us the power to get back up again and keep going.
    Hang in there!

  12. According to a friend (?) with a diabetic cat, it's easy, no big deal.
    So far, I just smile... (kinda like the Cheshire Cat?)

  13. I'd rather people look at me and say that I look healthy than have them say I look sick. And if they don't understand what the black box with a clear tube clipped to my belt and the "Walk to Cure Diabetes" hat on my head means, then I really don't value their opinion much.

  14. So true!

    I try so hard to show people that it's "no big deal" and diabetes doesn't stop me from doing anything, but then I get mad that they don't understand when it IS a big deal and temporarily stops me from doing something.

  15. We work so hard to make it look easy. Great post!

  16. So much truth in these words. I will never forget when my little guy was first diagnosed how someone said that very same thing..."but he looks so healthy!" xoxo

  17. I probably very much resemble your "homeless" self this morning. ;) Guess I should stay indoors?

  18. Tea with the Queen...HAHAHAHAHAAA! I'll be using that one! Oh, and yes, our kids look very healthy because we work our asses off to make sure it's so!


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