After living with type 1 diabetes for twenty-six years, five months and twenty-six days, (that’s the first time I’ve ever figured out exactly how long, by the way) I have collated so many memories. The spectrum of emotions these memories are linked to stretch as far as the eye can see. It was a struggle to pick just one to write about, but I finally decided to go with a funny one. The one that makes me laugh out loud every time I think back…
When I was eight years old, (not long after I my diagnosis,) I went through a phase where I thought I could sing like Cindy Lauper and breakdance like Ice T. All I wanted to wear were clothes that made a statement; mostly very poorly composed statements. I swung from denim overalls and baseball caps to broderie anglaise sun dresses.
Being the carefully calculating little adult that I was, I made up excuses to ensure that I could sport the outfit of my desire. This included being “very” interested in attending Sunday School with my neighbour across the road. She and her family attended Church every Sunday and they were more than happy to let me tag along. Little did they know that I was just in it to wear my gorgeous party dresses; you know, the ones my Mum wouldn’t let me wear unless it was a super special occasion. So by going to Sunday School, I could finally wear them. Each and every Sunday. Without fail. Whoop whoop!
One part of the equation I forgot to take into account was that since my pancreas stopped working and I started having two mixed-insulin injections a day, I had to eat approximately every two hours. This meant that morning tea happened right in the middle of Sunday School. No one else had to eat and at that stage I was still not confident in being different to all the other kids. Nor were diabetes management strategies flexible enough back then to allow for adjustments to meal times.
So I initiated “operation drop my pencil”… over and over again. I would pretend to drop my pencil under the table when we were working in small groups, because this happened at the same time morning tea was scheduled. Whilst crawling under the table to retrieve the “dropped” pencil, I would scoff down as much of my snack as humanly possible. I considered myself quite the achiever at the time. I ate my morning tea as instructed with no one noticing. I didn’t have to talk to anyone about my diabetes. And most importantly, I wore a very pretty dress every single Sunday.
To this day, I don’t know how long I persevered with that plan. I’m almost certain that I wasn’t as stealth as I thought I was at the time. There would have been crumbs everywhere, including on my face! What makes me laugh is that my caper was humoured by the adults around me. And eventually I got brave enough to start managing my diabetes in public, and talking about… and I haven’t stopped to take a breath since!
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