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If You're Going to Stare ...

I like this image, so I'm using it again.  :)Last night at the gym, I put my bag in the locker and took off my sweatshirt.  Wearing my black yoga pants, sports bra, and a tank top, I went into the bathroom section of the locker room to put my hair in a ponytail.

Two other women were at the sinks, chatting in Spanish and washing their hands.   They were standing to my left and as I raised my arm to put the elastic in my hair, I noticed that both women had stopped talking for a minute and were staring at my arm. Staring like I had moldy peach stuck to my arm, or maybe one of those bizarre happy spiders

Then I remembered that the Dexcom sensor is comfortably resting on the back of my left arm.  Facing them.  

I had a quick surge of "Grrrrr," as in "What are you staring at, woman?  Never seen a CGM sensor before?" ... then I had to check my attitude.  No, they probably haven't ever seen a continuous glucose monitoring sensor before.  Just because it's something I'm used to doesn't mean it's something they are used to.  After yesterday's post purge and your wonderful and inspiring comments, I felt ready to cast off some of this anger and try, instead, to help.

So I decided to smile instead.  

"I'm sorry, I don't mean to notice that you're staring."  Gestured to my arm.  "This thing - it's for my type 1 diabetes.  It's a glucose monitor."

"Oh my goodness, I did not mean to stare," said the woman in the green shirt.  "I was like, 'Is that an iPod thing or something?'  I have never seen that kind of thing before."

Her friend with the glasses leaned in.  "For diabetes?"

"Yeah.  I know it doesn't look completely natural, and I would stare, too, if it wasn't something I was used to." Glasses and Green Shirt smiled back.  "It's cool.  I just didn't want you wondering if I was some kind of cyborg or something."

Green Shirt laughed.  "Cyborg?  No, chica.  It's interesting looking.  I was waiting for, like, the music to come out of it or something.  But I didn't mean to stare.  Lo siento, my friend."

"Not a problem at all.  Have a good workout!"

I left the locker room and went to do my workout.  After I was done, I went back in to grab my sweatshirt and saw Glasses and Green Shirt getting their gear together.  Flashed them a quick smile.  Glasses smiled back.  Green Shirt tapped her left arm and gave me a knowing nod.

Some people can try to bring you down.  But others, even strangers, can raise you up.  

[Dexcom disclosure]

Comments

I like that. It's inspiring. Good to know that people are willing to learn.
And, yesterday's post and comments were VERY inspiring. We have a great community here!

Cool story. It's always cool when you can educate someone. And it's even cooler when they speak Spanglish!

:)

Thanks Hermana.

Wow Kerri, way to turn something potentially disastrous (whether socially, with the gals, or mentally in your head) into something that made a positive impression on them. AND - made me smile too.

Nice work "double O 33".

Cool story. Being a control freak and tech geek I want a CGMS. But ... my endo says that my diabetes is so well managed (A1C is under 6) that I would have a hard time getting approval from my health ensurer.

I love this story!

P.S. I looked at the graphic and thought "I like that one I'm glad she used it again" and they I hovered over it (like I always do) to read your caption...

Picked up your blog through my Google Reader.
I too go to the gym and am irritated by a number of things. As I get older, I can feel myself getting more and more cynical (hate that too.) Your post was great. It uplifted my spirits and reminded me to cool down a bit and think of all the possibilities. Now if I can just do that!
One thing I love is the diabetes support community. So many opportunities on line.

Awesome story. I think sometimes we get so self-conscious and defensive about our D-gadgets. And by "we" I mean "I". LOL It's nice to hear that when people are staring, they probably don't mean to be rude. They are just interested in the cool gadget we have.

I've been rocking the Dexcom on my arm (after seeing your pics) and noticed a guy looking at it while I was running in my building's gym (gotta love the half marathon training!). You explained it so well- I might have to do the same.

And I didn't comment yesterday, but I think you rock!

D brings with it such a contradictory mix of wanting others to "get it", but not wanting others to see it. Great job turning those stares into an educational moment!

This is so great. I am trying very hard to be overtly nice these days, not just neutral or God forbid, a grouchy pain in the neck. What you did obviously made them feel so much better and you too. I'm inspired to work harder at the proactive nice thing.

But, hearing Spanish and speaking Spanglish is one of the major (only?)things I miss about TX!

Kerri, here's one I wrote about people staring at my daughter's sensor and pump.

http://diabetes360.blogspot.com/2008/03/stares.html

You're the best Kerri.

During moments like yours many do not err on the side of positive.
All around it makes everyone feel better.

Keep it up.
It's in those moments when we want so badly to let out all of the anger that we must check ourselves, readjust, leave the anger behind and try to turn it around.

Good for you.
;-)

I love that you put your initial reaction in check and allowed the strangers to delight you instead of get you down. That's a fantastic story!

Well done, Kerri. I don't think I would've been so nice.

See, there you've set a great example for not jumping to conclusions and instead opening up to people who were curious.

That was very cool.

I've gotten comments on my sensor in the past too Kerri. You can always tell what "that look" is about from folks when you see it!

A couple of days ago while out and about with my (almost)3 year old Jenna, a little girl, maybe 10 years old, asked if her pump was a REAL camera. I told her very matter-of-factly that no, it's an insulin pump for diabetes. I try to be conscious of my tone and non-verbal behaviour in such instances. I don't want Jenna to think she has anything to be ashamed of. I also like to gobble up any opportunity to raise awareness and educate people. Funny, you can always count on kids to just come right out and ask about stuff like that. The adults just... well, stare.

Hehe that's awesome :) Sometimes, people are just curious hehehe... and now, they'll know for the next time they see another person with diabetes who has a CGMS or a pump :)

By the way, Siah is adorable!!!!!! :) The cutest cat ever...

The coolest thing was when I saw a Spanish lady wearing a sensor the same as mine as we were swimming in a waterfall in the middle of the Costa Rican rainforest. I think we were both as amazed as each other to see someone else with a sensor in the jungle!

That's a good story.

Did I ever tell you that I had a guy ask me if I was on house arrest because he saw my sensor on my arm at a Devil Rays Game?? That was a first... maybe he just had too much beer. ;)

I get asked if my pump is a pager a lot! And people have a very mean tone when they ask because pagers are not a cool thing to have anymore. So I love answering them in a very nice calm voice "No it's an insulin pump. I'm a diabetic" and then I watch them shrink back into their skin because they are so embarassed. I like to educate them because I can handle the questions and that way maybe they will not do it to someone that does not like the qurstions and stares. For some reason men are more likely to question me about it than women. I don't know if it is because I'm a girl or what but I'd say 99% of the questions from strangers come from a male.

On week 1 of pump wearing, my 8 year old daughter attended tennis camp. Her peers asked her if she had tennis balls stuck in her top and she said "no". They then quipped "well, what's in your shirt?". As the pump was new to her and being so young, she was uncertain about what she should say, so she raised her shirt to show them. Their response: "Cool. A mini tv." She laughed and said nothing.

oh funny story... I was out drinking with the girls (my cutoff point is barely buzzed ;) ) and this big military guy was chatting up my friends boyfriends. he asked about my pump... just to get a reaction out of this meathead, I lifted my shirt just enough to expose the pump site. he hit the floor and was out cold for a while!!! hahahaha

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