You Don’t Look Like You Should Have Diabetes.
“And this, too, please,” I said, sliding the opened and half-consumed bag of gummy candies across the counter, my hands shaking.
This low was bad. The symptoms were very visible, with unsteady hands and knees that were buckling out and sweat beading up on my forehead despite the 40 degree weather outside. I knew I was the color of a cotton ball, with the mental capacity of one as well.
My Dexcom had gone off about ten minutes earlier and I picked around in my purse for the jar of glucose tabs that I soon realized were tucked neatly into the cup holder of my car. Out in the parking lot. (Useful.)
Necessity forced my hand to grab the way overpriced bag of candies off the shelf and consume a handful. “Most expensive low ever,” I muttered, aware that coming up from this 45 mg/dL was going to cost me a pretty penny. I needed to get out of the store and reassemble my wits, but lows don’t excuse shoplifting, so I made my way to the cashier to check out.
“Are you okay?” the cashier asked, probably because I looked half-removed from the planet.
“These candies are open. Do you want a different bag? These have been half-eaten,” she said.
“No, it’s okay. I ate them.” I smiled in a way that I hoped looked reassuring but probably looked weirdly menacing. “Low blood sugar.”
She smirked. “And here you are, buying candy. Isn’t this part of the problem? You don’t look like you should have diabetes. Maybe you should stop eating candy.”
I would have rather been eating a banana, to be honest. Treating with fruit is my preferred way to upend a low. Or I would have rather had some measured glucose tabs so I knew how much I was consuming and could avoid the post-low rebound. Fuck, you know what? I’d rather not have been low at all, because being low in a public place is embarrassing and makes me feel vulnerable.
Let’s just round it out and say that I’d much prefer not to have diabetes in the first place.
“The candy is to bring my blood sugar up. It’s to keep me from passing out here at your counter.” It was hard to make the right words come out, but anger jumped ahead of hypoglycemia. My voice was sharp, like the plummet on my Dexcom graph. “What does someone who should have diabetes look like, anyway?”
She didn’t look at me. And I was glad she didn’t. I popped a piece of the candy into my mouth, my attempt at a PWD version of a mic drop. I don’t look like I should have diabetes? Maybe that’s the point. Maybe she needs an education on what diabetes does look like, instead of viewing my disease as a punchline, one that society judges unabashedly.
All of a sudden, I can’t wait for November.