Last week, I had the pleasure of attending a Public Relations Society of American dinner for the Suburban chapter of Chicago. It was a great event where I had the opportunity to meet various public relations professionals as well as those who are involved in various communication professions.
I sat down after meeting those who I've been in contact with for a while just to meet a young woman like myself sitting next to me. As someone asked us to pose for a photo, she said, "Not while I'm checking my blood sugar." I said, "You have diabetes, too! So do I."
Our conversation just went on from there. I was there to talk about Extra Bilingual Newspaper, but I ended up wanting to talk about my blog, about the Diabetes Social Media Advocates and about everything else that I've done within the diabetes world.
Upon speaking with her, there was one thing that she said that caught my attention. I asked if she was on the pump, too and she answered, "I want to forget that I have diabetes." That turned my brain on to so many other things that I could tell her. I had never wanted to forget that I had diabetes, as much as I wanted to just be rid of it! I've hated that I have it, I've hated whatever it was that caused this disease and I've wished that I could just stop counting carbs and checking blood sugars. I guess that falls along the same lines. But it took me a while to come to grips with dealing with this chronic disorder. That's what I call my Type 1b.
"No! You shouldn't! Diabetes should be your best friend," I told her. And then I started thinking about it. As people with diabetes, we micro manage our disease or disorder. We make sure everything is treatable and works with our systems and even when we know it won't work, we give in anyway. Ahem! Cupcakes!
But I know that if I eat a banana, I'll have to take more insulin than if I eat an apple. I know that if I eat a salad with chicken, I won't have to take much insulin at all because of how it'll affect me later. If I go running, I know when and how to take off the pump or monitor my insulin.
I know my diabetes so well, that I'm freer because of it. I ended up telling her this. The more control she has the freer she can be. She ended up telling me that she recently moved to the Chicago area from Cleveland without many friends or family. She said that she had been having a lot of trouble lately and that she had been super stressed and depressed. I suddenly wanted to be her friend.
"You have to learn how to relax and keep yourself in check," I said. I didn't want her to become one of those people who had complications in the end just because she was one to say, "I didn't think it would happen to me."
You'd be surprised; it happens a lot. I have learned to take precautions and actually live with diabetes because I can't sacrifice my health. Like I say, I have too much to do to get sick and die over something I could have prevented. It becomes something that you learn to deal with because kidney dialysis doesn't sound at all appealing, nor does going blind, for that matter.
That night, I was supposed to be on the DSMA en Vivo radio show that we do every two weeks. I couldn't make it for obvious reasons, but in the end, I felt like I was supposed to be at that dinner to sit there and talk to that young woman, to meet her and to let her know that it's possible and important to live a good life with diabetes.
It was a diabetes destiny and I was glad to be there to help her see that she isn't alone in the battle.