I've had several opportunities lately to do just that: talk. Now that I'm blogging, I notice that the people I see in my day-to-day life are more willing than they may have been in the past to fact-check with me something they heard about diabetes, or tell me that someone they know also has it, or ask me questions about my own care.
And I think that's pretty awesome.
For example, when I told one of Aaron's co-workers (who I had just met) about my upcoming diabetes-themed party and the milestone it was marking, I got a big grin and a high five. Turns out diabetes (I didn't ask which type) runs in his family, and they all get tested once a year. He seemed to totally get why I wanted to celebrate.
Then, at my diaversary party, a friend asked about my pump. We see each other pretty often but haven't had a lot of chances for in-depth discussion - our meetings usually center around football or other Reasons To Be Partying.
"So... your pump. Is that something you had to have surgery for, oooor...."
I realized that, for as much as I've mentioned diabetes around her, I've never gone into some of the important basics. Which made me feel a little bit dumb for not telling her all of this earlier - but there's no time like the present, so I went into how the pump works, where it goes, how often it gets changed out, etc.
Once a month, my employer brings in a massage therapist to do 15-minute chair massages. (And let me tell you, it's reeeeally hard to go back to work when you're post-massage and feeling halfway asleep. But I do.) She knows about my pump and CGM; I told her about my trip to DC for JDRF's Government Day. She's pretty hip to the diabetes vernacular, too. And when I saw her a few weeks back, the first thing she did was squeal, "Oh! I have something for you!", and pull out a piece of paper with a name, phone number and website on it. "I've got another client who has a daughter with type 1, and they're doing some sort of group thing? Anyway, I totally thought of you and told her about you - I hope that was okay? - and she wanted me to give you her information."
"Hope that was okay"? Heck yeah it is!
The most recent chance I had to "just talk" was with my cousin's wife, at an Easter get-together. We were standing in my parents' yard watching all of the kids play, and true to her direct nature (which I love), she just came right out and asked.
"So, no one ever talks about this, and I don't know what the answer is, so I'm just going to ask you. With your diabetes, are you able to have kids? I mean - is it safe? Because I have no idea."
(This is the part where I should note that, as one of the youngest in my generation on both sides of the family, I'm the only one left - besides my brother - who doesn't have children.)
The funny thing about this inquiry is that, perhaps asked a few years earlier, I might have been bothered by it. I wouldn't exactly have known how to answer. It would have caused me considerable stress to come with a decent answer - because, really, I wouldn't have known that answer myself.
|That megaphone looks suspiciously
like a coffee mug and sleeve. Just sayin'.
This is part of why this community means so much to me - it gives me the confidence and information I need to be able to "just talk". Reading and hearing the stories of others - even from afar - gives me validation and purpose. When I talk about diabetes, I feel like I've got a team of warriors right there beside me. The words of others shape my own, in that my voice wavers less and uses bigger words.
I hope that this community does the same for you - and that the next time an opportunity presents itself, you'll be willing - and confident - to just talk.