the other day at work (have i mentioned i work at a grocery store?), a young man came through my checkout. he was purchasing 2 cases of G2 Gatorade Naturals. he informed me that he needed these because he was Diabetic and they were low in sugar and therefore "really good" for him. his mother was with him and she gave him a funny look.
i knew that look. that was the look that said "really? must you tell total strangers about this? i'm sure she doesn't want to know about your Diabetes".
she was an older woman, and despite his age (he looked about 25) he seemed young. i could tell there was something not quite there, and please forgive me for saying that, but i don't know how else to describe him and what i did next.
without giving it a thought i opened my mouth and said to him "i'm a diabetic too." and i showed him and his mother my tattoo. i continued to scan their groceries and his mother seemed to let down her guard just a little. she told me that he had been diagnosed a "couple years ago", and he didn't "really take care of himself". this of course, was all within his hearing. he didn't seem to mind exactly. he just smiled and kept unloading the cart.
since they were my last customers before my lunch break, i decided to make the most of this chance to advocate.
i asked him whether he was Type 1 or Type 2. he actually said he didn't know. this kind of blew me away. so i asked if he took insulin or other medication, and he said that he took needles, 3 of them a day. he didn't like them though. his mother explained that because of his age (29), the doctors started him on pills but soon discovered that they weren't working and put him on insulin.
after a couple of minutes talking with these 2, and explaining that i used to be on 4 needles a day, i whipped my pump out of my cleavage (okay it's not really cleavage but whatever!), and i thought she was going to faint!! i told them that this was my new best friend.
they had never seen one so i explained how it worked (the readers digest version). they both seemed really interested and asked some good questions. I then asked him if he thought that might be easier than "sticking himself" 3 times a day. he said he didn't know.
i found out that he had been seeing the same group of people at the Diabetes Education Center that i do, but he didn't go as often as he should. he also mentioned that he doesn't check his BG very often cause "no one told him to". sounds hard to believe doesn't it?
his mother began to open up a little, and told me that his feet bother him. when i asked him about that he said that they felt like they were burning sometimes. i said i knew exactly what he was talking about. his mom seemed surprised that i was taking time to talk to them, and she mentioned that he had never talked to another diabetic before.
without trying to sound like the story of doom and gloom, i explained to them that i have been diabetic for 37 years, and i told them that there were years of really bad habits that had led me to a lot of complications that could have been avoided. i told them about my open heart surgery, and how i believed that could have been avoided had i just faced my disease, listened to my doctors and looked after myself properly. i tested many times a day, i measured most everything i ate, and i tried to exercise every day.
i told him and his mother that they should really think about going back to the clinic, and talking to the people there. they had lots of information and were there to help him understand his Diabetes and make informed choices about his health that would help him avoid the fate of so many Diabetics that either don't have the will or the knowledge needed to avoid those complications.
i didn't want to sound like i was preaching, and i didn't want to scare them, but i did need to give them something to think about.
i told him as i was leaving them, that i hoped to see him some day at the Clinic. he laughed and said "you just might!"
as i went up to the lunch room, i sort of laughed to myself. i was thinking that not too long ago, i was the shy one. i didn't want anyone to know about my diabetes. and now, after just over a year of blogging here i was, whipping out my pump at the grocery store for total strangers!!!
oh DOC, look what you've done to me!!!