Monday, May 9, 2011

Hi, I'm Val & I have type 1 diabetes

How do you bring up that you have diabetes? Or that your kid(s) have it? It's not always easy to know when is the right time to bring it up, and it's definitely not something that is easily understood by all. At the age of 26, after having it for 5.5 years, I'm pretty comfortable with telling people, but usually on a need to know basis. It's not something you can just bring up randomly in conversation unless it kind of leads you there. I don't think it's obvious that I have type 1 and most people after finding out say they wouldn't have known.

When I was first diagnosed, it was much harder to tell people. There were friends of mine I had known for years who didn't know me as someone with type 1 diabetes. I felt weird and awkward bringing it up, and I also didn't want to overwhelm people with all the info I could tell them once they started asking questions. The good thing is that none of my friends treated me differently, but they do ask me how I'm doing and I know they genuinely care. In fact, a lot of the time they forget I have it! But that was my main concern--I didn't want anyone to treat me differently or feel bad for me once I told them. When I first started my job, I didn't tell my boss for several months because I wanted him and everyone else there to know I could do my job. I could handle the workload and I didn't need to be treated differently than any other employee. As time passed, more and more people found out, but there are still new people who come in every year who don't know.

Today, I was grabbing some lunch in the cafeteria and ran into one of the girls who is temping on our floor. We started talking about food and how it can be hard to eat on a normal schedule when you're working in advertising, and she told me that her dad is hypoglycemic and that her mom has type 1 diabetes. I then blurted out, "I have type 1 diabetes." She seemed to know already, which I figured since a) it's pretty obvious from some of my Facebook posts and b) I wear a wrist band that says "diabetes" next to a medical alert symbol. It's always an instant bond though when you find someone who is somehow connected to diabetes. You can say words like "insulin pump" and not have to explain anything. It's almost like a sigh of relief to know there are other people out there who get it. Her mom also has Celiacs. Her mom even said she would take type 1 over Celiacs. That one surprised me! I don't have Celiacs, but there are so many more food options for people with Celiacs and gluten intolerances nowadays--it seems like anyway, I could be wrong. I think I would rather take Celiacs! I know you would have to be on a strict diet and it could be complicated, but so is diabetes. And I wouldn't have to worry about keeping myself ALIVE every day or have 2 things attached to my body. I think I would take Celiacs.

All I know is that even though I sometimes feel like diabetes is such a huge part of my life, I also don't want it to define my entire self. I don't want people to see me as Val, the diabetic. But I do want people to know that despite diabetes, I am proactive in taking care of myself and it's NOT a death sentence. And even though I think I can do anything a "healthy" person can do, I have come to accept that I can't always go at full steam. I may need to take a break to check my blood sugar or drink some juice. I may need your help and support at one point, but that's OK.


  1. That's a good question. I think that because Ally is still young I tell most people who she is around that she has diabetes. But I don't necessarily bring it up to people who don't know her. Kind of on an as needed basis like you said.

  2. On a "need to know" basis with Joe...granted I am blabbing it all over the internet - LOL.

    I really loved the end of the blog. Very real...about being able to do anything, but not always at full steam. Wonderfully stated.

  3. We tell only when it's pertinent or important. We want people to treat Jack just as they would any other kid, so if they don't need to know, then we don't tell them.