Looking Back: Diabetes Back in the Day.
This week is school vacation week for Birdzone, which means there’s plenty of Bird-watching and not a whole lot of inbox-management. (Unless it’s after midnight … which is when all work-from-home happens … that’s normal, right? So are these bags under my eyes, right?) Which means that I might be re-visiting a few posts here and there. Starting with today, and a look back at how diabetes has shown up in my diaries from years ago.
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Last night, I found a box of old diaries. I’ve been keeping a paper journal since I was seven years old and I have so many hardcover journals with cats and flowers and balloons on them, my handwriting maturing as steadily and awkwardly as my content.
It’s strange, though, to see how little focus I put on diabetes in my previous journaling. Most of my earlier journals (eight, ten years old at the time) talk about a boy I had a crush on in fourth grade or roller skating on the weekends or battling with my brother and sister. But there were a few entries in particular that spoke to life with diabetes. And while I’m not quite ready to recount the long, dramatic entry about my first kiss (gah!), I wanted to share snippets of my diabetes diary from my teenage years (these entries are from when I was 14 and 15):
May 13, 1993: Beavis and Butthead is over. It was strange, because they were in school and in home economics. Their assignment was to carry around a back of sugar as a “baby.” But Butthead said he couldn’t do it because he was “diatetic.” The teacher reprimanded him by saying, “That’s DIABETIC, and yes you can do this.” I’m not exactly sure why, but that comment bothered me. Alot. I think it’s because I’m so sensitive about being a diabetic. It makes me wonder how handicapped people feel about ‘HandyMan’ on In Living Color. If I feel offended about an off-handed comment, how would someone else feel about a recurring segment?
Was this one of the first moments of diabetes in the mainstream media that I can remember? I honestly can recall being affected by this, and wishing Butthead had said “diabetes” correctly.
June 27, 1994: Today, my mother was talking with [name redacted] about diabetes camp and I couldn’t help but overhear. She said, “As soon as Kerri left, we all relaxed and lead a normal two weeks free of worries and medical stuff.” Am I a burden to my family? Do they resent my diabetes? Do I have a “normal” life?
This isn’t to call my mother out for saying this. I’ve heard a lot of parents say the same thing about the weeks that their child is away at diabetes camp. Diabetes requires parents to think on their feet all the time, so the reprieve of having their child away and under constant and capable medical care must have been such a nice break.
Funny – I’ve always wanted a break from it, too.
July 6, 1994: I leave for Clara Barton Camp on Sunday. I love camp. We are all incredibly goofy and loved. It is such a cool feeling to have people who understand it to talk to. Sometimes I feel alienated at home because I am the only diabetic around. No one seems to understand the emotions I feel concerning diabetes. I am frustrated and angry sometimes, and other times I feel bad for myself. Sometimes I even want sympathy, and that’s confusing because I say I don’t want to be treated differently at the same time. It’s weird, though, because I want to be able to control every aspect of my health, so when my health emotions get all crazy, I feel like I’m going nuts. At least at CBC I’m not the only one who feels that way. If I tried explaining that to my friends, they’d look at me like I was nutso.
Ah, my longing for a diabetes community, even before I knew there would be one online. 🙂
And this paper was shoved into my diary from 1991, written on school paper and smelling softly of pencil boxes and recess. It speaks volumes about how much a 12 year old kid grasps about guilt and diabetes:
It’s a lot to carry. I felt so alone. And as I read through these diaries late into last night, I was again grateful to know I’m not the only person out there living with this. The power of this community is tremendous. I also realized how everything has changed, but at the same time, nothing has changed.