Category Archives: Diabetes and work

What my Son Taught me about Respecting People’s Fear of Needles

I grew up with type 1 diabetes and so it became crucial that I get comfortable with checking my blood sugar and giving myself injections in front of other people.  I would often be afraid of their reaction.  Would they be disgusted?  Worried?  Alarmed?  I have always used some discretion when handling these acts in public but I’ve also been vocal about how these acts affect me and not anyone else so I really don’t want to hear anyone complaining about it.  After all I’m the one enduring the pain, right?  Well, I may have been wrong.

My children are six now, but I noticed that when they were about 4, my son would stare at me when I gave my insulin shots.  He would watch the needle go in and out.  He’d even observe as I put the orange cap back on the syringe and zipped it back up in its case.  I thought to myself, “well, he sure seems interested” and I’d answer any questions he had about what I was doing.

As he got older he would ask questions like, “mommy, does it hurt when you do that?”  And I’d answer truthfully, “yes, sometimes it does, but usually it doesn’t”.  He would then say something like, “I sure am glad I don’t have diabetes.” In the past year, he has winced every time I prick my finger for a blood sugar check or given an insulin shot.  I also noticed that sometimes he would appear to physically shake off the image he just saw the way a parent might when envisioning a worst case scenario involving their precious child.

I have been quite accustomed to doing all these diabetes things in the same way someone else might pull their hair up into a ponytail or role up a shirt sleeve.  In other words, I have grown into an adult that recognized I needed to be comfortable checking my blood sugar and giving insulin anywhere and in front of anyone for my wellbeing and so I do these things mindlessly and without the crippling worry I felt as a child or teenager.  In doing so I’ve learned that most people have a lot of empathy and compassion.  They are cautious if they don’t know me and if we are say, shoulder to shoulder on a plane ride, but still rather polite.  I always imagined that I’d have children who wouldn’t even blink at my pricking my finger because I figured they’d be used to it.

My daughter has been an interesting comparison.  She doesn’t wince or tremble or look like she is in pain for me at all.  Instead, she looks away and continues what she is doing, staying just as happy-go-lucky as always.  Recently, after injecting, my son said,  “Mommy, it hurts me so much every time I see you do that.”  I quickly rushed to his side and said, “But, I’m ok sweetie, it only hurts a little, I’m still happy and smiling and everything is ok.”  Then he explained how he knows it does hurt sometimes, how he has seen the little bruises that sometimes arise, and how he hates that something painful is what keeps me alive.  Such empathy!  Then I was stunned when he said, “Would you please turn around when you are giving your shot so I don’t have to see?”

And I suddenly understood something I hadn’t before.  Some people watch us inject or prick our finger and genuinely feel a tingle through their body thanks to a release of cortisol brought on by the stress of the great load of empathy they feel for us.  Most of these people know we have to do what we do but some people are very sensitive, so much they might appreciate us having more discretion around them because they will feel our pain to some extent.

You might think of someone you don’t particularly like and not really care too much about their reaction.  I get it, but we all desire compassion from others and the only way to really earn that is through reciprocal empathy.  I care about you and you care about me.  My son doesn’t get that stress response anymore because even in the comfort of my own home I turn around or go to a different room.  When we are in close quarters I let him know what I have to do and he appreciates the warning so he can turn away.  Then I say I’m done and both my kids look at me and smile.

I now extend this awareness and courtesy to others wherever I go.  I bet there are less people out there with a fear of needles than those who are quite simply sensitive to another’s suffering.  And who would want to make this sweet little face upset?Christmas-Day-2011-134.jpg

Just to clarify, we people with diabetes should absolutely do what we need to do, when and where we need to do it. However, life should be played by ear and there are easy little ways to spread compassion as we go.  I’m not boldly defiant about my diabetes management in public–i’m calmly adamant that it’s the right thing to do.  When I soften myself up and show empathy towards others, they show it right back. It’s a win-win, what I’m advocating for.

Traveling with Diabetes


I’ve travelled several times each month this year and it’s given me some lessons:

I’ve learned that I get motion sickness on planes and cannot travel without taking Dramamine.  I tried to forego it once and that one time we just so happened to have a bumpy ride.  It is not fun to worry about dropping blood sugars while throwing up and being jostled about in the tiny plane lavatory. 

Taking all the airport stairs and skipping the moving sidewalks (is that what they’re called?) is a good way to combat all the sitting involved in travel.

Staff on planes are always happy.  I still haven’t met one that isn’t, which is freaky, but if I’m feeling low, so far they are quick to grab juice if I need it and want to conserve my glucose tablet stash for later.

The food situation when in an airport is mighty tricky.  Temptation abounds and yet the easiest way I’ve found to travel is to keep it real low carb because if things get hectic, and lately in airports, they always seem to, low carb often saves me amidst skipped blood sugar checks.

Given how close one’s next seat neighbor is in coach, I find it remarkable how injecting insulin in front of that neighbor has never been an awkward experience.  In fact, it’s a great conversation starter and I’ve literally written down each starting line for your own amusement:

“Wow, those needles are tiny, I’m so glad for you.”

“So you have diabetes, huh?”

“OMG, do you need sugar?”

“Ok, what do I do if you pass out on this flight?”

“Wow, in and out, just like that, eh?  It takes me longer to sneeze.”

“How long have you had it?”

And my personal favorite:  “Does it hurt? I’m sorry, of course it hurts, what was I thinking? That was such a stupid thing to say, I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to say that, I just figured that it hurts but maybe it doesn’t or maybe you’re used to it, is that it, are you used to it? Wait…I take that back, I get migraines and I seriously doubt I’ll ever get used to them.  Just forget I said that, ok?”  5 seconds later:  “So, where ya headed?”


10 Random Things from the Author of The Girl’s Guide to Diabetes



Hi!  I’ve been away from the blog longer than ever since it started 3.5 years ago.  That ends today.  But, here is what has been consuming my thoughts and making writing about diabetes a lower priority:

1.  Travelling with diabetes is challenging.  I’ve really been working at getting the knack of it.  I don’t want it to be bad for my health you know?  The other day, I tried my best to check my blood sugar in line at the airport where you put your things in cubbies to get scanned and just as I put the blood in the strip the scanner sucked my cubby with my meter in it inside to be scanned and I had to ask the lady at the scanner, “Excuse me, what number do you see on my meter?”  She lifted the scanner flap and peeked inside and said, “911 I think?”  Huh?!  It came out a few seconds later and I saw a 116, phew!  People behind me looked a little nervous and I don’t blame them.  One TSA agent said, “We need to do a pat down, do you mind?”  I said, “Of course you need to now, go ahead.”  What was I doing checking at the most inappropriate time?  I felt really off like I might be very low and ready to pass out and didn’t want to hesitate with checking because I had to run to the next gate so I felt I needed to just do it then.  I get sick to my stomach with flying so I take dramamine and that makes me kind of loopy…but I still love it.  Flying that is, not the dramamine.

2.  My favorite number is two.  I know that’s random but-My dad was diagnosed with bladder cancer.  It’s really scary because even though surgery removed the tumor, the likelihood of return is very high.  I’m making him vegetable juices and hoping that does something to help.  This has made me have a heart to heart with myself about my diabetes because I can do so much to make my outcome a good one-I really need to remember that and be grateful for it.

3.  My kids being 3.5 and still at home with me all day is driving me nuts.  I hate feeling nagged because I really am very happy to have them with me, to read books and play games all day, mold their minds into caring, open, patient people, watch them impressed as they have expert command of the computer, but at the same time, I know I’m not enough.  And I’m not sure how to solve this which leads me to:

4.  My husband Alex and I are having a hard time deciding where to live.  We can’t decide whether to rent or buy, to get a house or condo or loft.  And its because what we want doesn’t exist where we live.  We want to buy a really small place (so that the cost is low and the space is just for basic needs) and then we want to use our extra money to eat well (for health’s sake) and to travel (for our kid’s mind’s sake).  And I don’t mean travel abroad, I mean anywhere.  Right now just driving to a neighboring town to visit isn’t doable because rent is so high (since we want a nice and safe area-gee are we just asking for too much?).  When we walk out of our front door we want to be around people, a community.  I live in a place that is too large to be a town and too small to be a city and so we don’t have any of the best of either world.  Others would disagree but I must be ambitious because I want more.  Alex does, too.  We’re lonely.  There, I said it.  My kids are lonely.  School is coming for them and I’m sure they will love it.  Maybe that’s all we have to wait for.  In the meantime daycare/preschool is too expensive here and we make too much to get federal aid for it-nor do I want it.  Stubborn Sysy strikes again.

5.  I’ve noticed there is a back lash online towards people who are health coaches or something similar.  Usually, the most upset are those who studied for years to get an accreditation of some kind.  I can understand.  However, what someone like myself does as a health coach is in no way a threat to what a dietitian or a nurse or a diabetes educator does.  Think of what a coach does?  Supports, cheers, listens, encourages.  I’ll write more about this soon.  And I’d like for people out there to know that vocation has a lot to do with how good one will be at their job.  Just think, we all took math in high school but how many of us could teach others that math?  I couldn’t to save my life.  My health coaching training took one intense year but I’ve been reading and training on the subject my whole life as if I grew up knowing what I wanted to do only not knowing it actually existed until recently.  And I think that goes for many people of all types of professions and work.  I may write more about this later in detail but for now, I just want to say that health coaches don’t take the place of the other health care professions, they just want to help alongside of them.  And there is a need for them otherwise so many people wouldn’t be calling us for help and leaving happy and satisfied.  And we deserve to make a living off of it because we’re working hard, helping people (isn’t that the point?), and can’t do our work as homeless people.  We don’t have huge loans to pay back but that’s not our fault.  We do have to struggle more to find work since so many are still skeptical however.

6.  I’d like to remind you all of the website Guerilla Goodness.  It’s awesome and inspiring and really cheers me up this time of year.  Great ideas here for spreading around secret acts of kindness-which I agree with the author-do change everything.

7.  I’ve been thinking about how to reconcile my love of fashion and quality clothing while not spending much and while buying from small businesses and while keeping my closet simple.  A friend from France emailed me explaining what most girls there do:  They buy a few pieces a year that they carefully select while walking around town, making sure they fit perfectly and they get shoes that are comfortable but exactly what they are looking for.  Then, they wear the same few outfits over and over and over.  It keeps things minimal, lets them wear what they love, and keeps costs down.  And at the end of the year, they have completely worn out their shoes and clothes and can start anew the next year.  I read the same thing in a book recently, too.  Just thought I’d share because I think too many of us have too much clothes and we don’t even love most of it and then our closets are overwhelming, we’ve spent too much, and for what?

8.  There is a website I want to share.  My type 1 friend Cynthia Zuber is on a holistic health journey.  She is doing great and it’s been very inspiring to get to know her and see what all she does to regain her health and maximize it.  She shares the most delicious recipes I’ve seen and just want to let you all know to check out Diabetes Light.

9.  Did you get the flu shot this year?  I didn’t though I can understand why some do.  I haven’t in many years.  So far, so good.  Things have been great since getting my Vitamin D levels up with Vitamin D3 supplements.  Oh and frequent hand washing.  Just wanted to share.

10.  My most popular post is about nerve damage reversal.  I am submitting an update here that as of December 2012, I have less foot pain than I have ever had.  In fact, I have had none this year.  I don’t know why.  I wonder if running bothers me (I’ve been doing more yoga and walking and less running).  For years I had tons of foot pain, tons!  Then as I regained control of my blood sugars the pain increased (which doctors told me could be due to healing of nerves)  Then the pain went away for 99% of the time.  I credit this lack of pain now to well managed blood sugars.  I thought I would halt damage by improving my sugars but it seems I’ve reversed some because of the lack of pain?  Pretty fantastic what great blood sugars can do.  Makes the discipline and healthy lifestyle so worth it.  Even if I just do it most of the time Winking smile  Anyway, I share because the possibility of less pain is a big motivator.

Take care, all.



I’ve Never Hid My Diabetes and Here is Why


DSMA Blog Carnival topic for March:

“Does your employer/school/friends know you have diabetes? Why or why not?”

I have never interviewed for a job without disclosing my type 1 diabetes in the first few minutes of the interview.  I thought I’d make them think “Either she’s crazy or she isn’t afraid of what we’ll think about her”.  I’m a fan of bold moves during interviews-makes things more exciting for everyone.  I know it was a risk but out of about 10 job interviews in my life I’ve only once not gotten the job (in that case I totally bombed the interview).  And I’ve been lucky to have never been fired from a job.

I share this to say that I suspect confidence and demeanor probably do more to create an impression on your employer of reliability and ability than one’s having diabetes.  I might be wrong or I might have been lucky but that’s how it’s always been for me.  I imagine it helps to look relatively healthy and happy as well.  Smiling and assuring them that I take care of myself is something that worked for me (even if that wasn’t all true at the time).

People at school have always known of my diabetes because my mom was very adamant about meeting with all my teachers (even when I was in high school) and looking them in the eye and very seriously explaining what the diabetes thing was all about.  She’d insist that whatever I needed to do like test, eat, use the restroom, should not be questioned.  (Yay mom!)  This made it impossible for me to hide my diabetes even if I had wanted to.  Teachers would be very aware of me.  I’d get my little snacks out and they’d discretely ask me how I was doing.  Or they’d make a little note on my homework or test paper reminding me that if I didn’t feel well or needed something I shouldn’t hesitate to let them know.  It was comforting to have them know.  I believe that it’s possible I got more tutoring help from teachers because of having diabetes but that could just be a figment of my imagination.  If that’s true, then being open about having diabetes sent me extra help, understanding, and support my way.

And then because intense diabetes management has a hard time hiding anyway, I was open with everyone in general about it.  I wanted friends to know about my diabetes.  I happened to be friends with really sweet, caring kids who all had great parents.  That helped a lot.  I was never teased or made to feel bad about my diabetes by a peer.  But then again, I don’t recall ever teasing or bothering anyone about anything, ever (though I did punch a few boys who deserved it).  I think that helped, too.  And if someone did say hurtful things, I can’t remember anything about that right now.  Weird huh?

*Side Note: I completely understand someone’s unwillingness to share their diabetes with others readily.  If my life had gone a little differently with other experiences, had people not been as supportive, or had someone poked fun at me…well, I’m sure I’d done different.

To read other awesome submissions for this topic, click here.

New Year’s Resolutions for May and June

Rockin Robin courtesy of Tina Phillips

Rockin Robin courtesy of Tina Phillips


For March and April my goal was to get organized. 

The house is far from where I want it .  We did manage to throw out a lot of things we don’t need, therefore reducing clutter.  I learned that if I make it a workout, cleaning can go by pretty quickly.  I got one of the kids to help me with constantly picking up the living room (the boy helps, the girl prances about like a princess).  I am also getting less and less fearful about throwing things away or giving them away.  I grew up keeping all sorts of items because I could give meaning or think of a memory for anything.  Now, I’m learning to just let go of my attachment to material things.  It feels good to know that none of it really matters.  The best part about organizing is having diabetes related supplies all in one place for once.  I also have prescription expiration dates notedand prescription refills synchronized and hopefully this system will streamline the whole “diabetes stuff” related hassles. 

Anyway, onward to May and June!  My goal is to focus on creating.  I write for my blog every day, I write for other publications, I work on a forum, and I’m writing a book.  I’m also supposed to take care of the house and my twins during the day.  My kids being the most important job here means I have to focus on them during the day and find a time when they’re sleeping to work- instead of trying to do it while watching them.  It’s seriously a wonder I write at all considering so much of it is done with two little people on my lap trying to steal my mouse and delete my work.  So as much as I’m dreading it (because I treasure sleep) I know I’m going to have to wake up early every day to write.  Luckily, I’ve got two whole months to get into this habit.  Working at night is not a good option because the computer is in the bedroom and my husband goes to work early so this night owl needs to turn into an early bird. 

Any tips from any of you early risers?

Too Much, Too Soon


The pow wow in the center of the room ended early due to sleepiness

The pow wow in the center of the room ended early due to sleepiness


I’m talking about freedom.  One week ago, my toddlers had their cribs converted to toddler beds.  Today, they sleep soundly in their cribs once more.  Friday night around 10pm my husband and I went into their bedroom to check on them and see how they were sleeping in their beds and we found them in the middle of the room, on the floor.

A few hours later I HAD to see them again and I was startled when my son sleep walked from the floor to his bed, teddy bear in hand.  He didn’t even notice me.  That was weird.  Then I look around in the dark for my daughter to find her several feet away from where she was before, face down on the carpet, under the window.  I checked her breathing and pulse the way I often do since becoming the most paranoid mama in the history of the universe.  Then I scooped her up and laid her in her bed.

I walked back to my bedroom shaking my head.  I was worried about someone jumping from the crib and getting hurt.  Then my husband said, “I think this was too much, too soon.”  He’s right.  Our kids couldn’t handle so much newfound freedom quite yet.  I’m just going to have to limit idle crib time so no one gets any ideas.

This has nothing do with diabetes except that it does.  These little stresses in life distract from diabetes management and wreak havoc on my blood sugars by altering my hormones.  For real!  My blood sugars were higher this past week with my kids being “loose” from their cages cribs than they’ve been in a long time. 

Right now my tiny tots are asleep on cozy matresses instead of the floor and I’m actually eating lunch while sitting.  It’s great for me, them, and my blood sugars :)

Where You Can Read More Diabetes Blog Posts


I’m still going to be doing what I do here at The Girl’s Guide to Diabetes but have been contracted to blog over at Diabetes Care Club a few times a month. 

They are the third largest diabetes supplies provider in the US and are starting a blog community on their website.  You can read more from me and other diabetic bloggers there (Like the fantastic Scott Johnson!).  You can also make a profile and start blogging yourself.  It is really fast and easy to do and can be a great way to see if you like blogging at all or to find out if you prefer reading and commenting or just reading.  It’s all a great way to participate in this Diabetic Online Community of ours. 

So maybe I’ll see you there!

Have a great one!

ps: You can hear about blogging updates for both sites if you friend me on twitter.  I’m @GG2Diabetes.

My Guaranteed* Good Day with Diabetes Plan


Every now and then I have an event or occasion I really don’t want diabetes getting in the way of.  In the past there have been speeches to make and soccer matches to play and so with trial and error I’ve come up with a plan for special days when I really want to avoid lows or highs.  (Key word: avoid)

No caffeine

Plenty of water

Two eggs for breakfast

Chicken/Meat/Fish for lunch and dinner with sides of non starchy veggies (such as spinach)

No sugar except juice as needed for any low blood sugar

Frequent blood sugar testing

Handful of almonds for snacks

No out of the ordinary exercises (may bring an unanticipated low blood sugar)

For me, following this plan works really well to ensure I have easy to manage blood sugars throughout the day. 

There are times when we might have a hard time testing, such as in the middle of a work presentation.  I find it priceless to be able to test before an event and know that I should have pretty predictable blood sugars for several hours. (Key word: should)

This plan worked great on my wedding day except that right before walking down the isle that evening I got so nervous I downed a 15 carb juice box because I had two fears, A) that the dress that was squeezing the life out of me would dramatically tear and reveal me to a cathedral full of people I knew and B) that I’d have a low in the middle of the ceremony and somehow manage to get juice all over my white dress therefore ruining all of the post ceremonial pictures.  So I drank the juice in a panic and once I got to the reception (hours later) I tested and found I was around 280.  “Bah! I ruined my perfect blood sugars for my wedding!”  I may never get over it because I was in 5 inch heels that entire night. (Until I kicked them off and danced all over the tattered hem of my dress…)

Anyway, It’s a valuable thing to have a day where you follow a specific protocol to get you through a special sort of day.  You could do it every day but that really is asking a lot isn’t it?  I find that going this extreme is best for once a week occasions.  Of course, if you’re menstruating or pregnant or under an abnormal amount of stress, expect the unexpected!  Otherwise, test out different meal plans until you come to something that works pretty good for you, just don’t let paranoia win! 

Easier said than done, I know.  There are no guarantees with diabetes but increasing the chances that things go well is always a good idea!

Ask Yourself this Question Each Day


What is my motivation today?  The answer to this question is what carries me from day to day with type 1 diabetes.  The days I don’t do well with this disease are often the days I forget to pinpoint for myself, just what I’m doing all this work for.  I know I’m doing it for big health reasons, but those reasons are not immediate enough.  I need a motivator that is close by and one I can reap rewards from really quickly. 

For example:  My husband and children had a cold last week.  I’ve never not caught a cold from them but after a few days noticed the three of them had passed the cold around and I was (gasp!) still feeling fine.  So for those couple of days my motivation each day for keeping my blood sugars in line was to not get sick.  If my blood sugar was high, my immune system would be weaker and perhaps I’d catch the cold.  So all day long I focused on keeping good blood sugar levels.  A week has gone by and I’m out of the clear! 

Another example:  On some days, my husband and I take our kids out after he gets home from work.  My motivation then is to have controlled blood sugars so that I can feel good enough to take our kids for an outing.  They’re 20 months old and mighty difficult to manage these days so when my sugars are off, I worry I won’t have the energy it requires to take care of them and so we don’t go anywhere.  The kids love going out and I’d hate to be the reason they didn’t go somewhere, so I make sure my blood sugars are where they need to be.  When we do have to cancel a trip because of me, I know it’s not often and therefore I feel ok with it.

When I was working outside of the home, my motivation each day was to be on top of my game at work.  I didn’t want to look weak by dealing with too many lows or highs and I wanted to maintain the quantity and quality of my work load. 

Obviously, there will be days where nothing seems motivating enough to deal with diabetes.  On these days you just have to forgive yourself and take things one step at a time.  There will be days where diabetes will just deal too tricky a card and numbers will be out of whack.  Don’t worry about those days.  Just do what you have to do to get back in range. 

But on all the other days, ask yourself what you want, what your motivation for having good blood sugars is.  Then use this energy to make it happen.  The snowball effect happens when you do this and more health and more opportunities come rolling your way!

Fear of How We’re Perceived


I once worked for the “call before you dig” company in my state of Virginia.  I was one of two or three people that would answer calls in Spanish and write up a “ticket” for those who needed to dig somewhere, be it for gardening or a new commercial building.  We realized over time that the laws about digging safely in Virginia were not being effectively communicated to the Spanish speaking community.  This was noted as a major problem because of the large number of construction/landscaping work that is done by Spanish speakers in Virginia.  Employers would risk going out of business as of a result of large fines and people would get hurt as a result of unsafe excavation.  So I was invited by the State Corporate Commission to travel to Northern Virginia and give an educational talk to about 100 Spanish speaking contractors.  We hoped these men would get the info they needed and spread the knowledge to their employees. 

At first, my big worry was my stage fright and the fact that I have never spoken much Spanish.  It’s generally embarrassing to have been born in South America and not have a solid grasp of my first language.  Anyway, once I translated the power point presentation, It suddenly hit me.  I’d have to manage my diabetes in a room full of Hispanic men while dealing with major nerves!  Honestly, it was quite intimidating.  I love speaking in front of a crowd but I get terribly nervous.  Sick to my stomach and dizzy and sweating nervous.  This always affects my blood sugars, too. 

I prepared the best I could and luckily, wasn’t going alone.  A friend and coworker whom I had been teaching Spanish to, managed to pick up a lot very quickly and would be going with me to help out.  The night before the presentation however, my boss and my coworker friend and I went out for ice cream.  Conveniently so, my insulin pump, which I was on at the time, decided to start beeping and reported back: “no delivery”.  I wasn’t getting any insulin and had already ate half of my enormous ice cream.  We headed back to the hotel and I ran up to my room to change my site and give insulin.  My blood sugar rose over the next 3 hours.  Eventually, I gave an insulin shot and took out my infusion site once again.  The second bent cannula of the night.  Great.  My blood sugar was around 400 and I worried I wouldn’t be good to go in the morning.  I had also just used my last infusion set so there was that worry.  Luckily, around midnight my blood sugar started stabilizing and I was able to go to sleep by 1:30am. 

The next morning my blood sugar was fine but I felt dehydrated and tired from the night before.  I had only slept five hours.  I was moody.  All I could think of was, “As if it wasn’t bad enough that I’m nervous talking in front of others and lack ease in using technical excavation terms in Spanish, I have to worry about my blood sugars, too!”  I took a few deep breathes and decided to have breakfast.  I was already shaky from being nervous, I didn’t want to be trembling from hunger, as well.  I didn’t eat much but what I did eat was carbohydrate loaded.  Right before the presentation was to start, I stood in a room full of contractors, many of whom were looking at their watches.  They wanted it over with, they had work to get to.  And what was I doing?  Going over what I was going to say?  No, I was sipping a juice box to fix a low.  Why did this bother me?  Because ever since I was 6 years old, when the teacher asked for a strong young man to help her carry books, I raised my hand really high in defiance because “Girls are strong, too!”.  I don’t know why but I’ve spent my whole life making it a point to prove that women are as capable as men.  So I just didn’t want to come off as precious or vulnerable, drinking juice from a juice box, speaking Spanish in an English accent to a crowd that intimidated me.  I wanted them to take what I had to say seriously, because it was serious.  I had just got done translating for some contractors who got in trouble (meaning they paid HUGE fines) for not abiding excavation laws and they made “little women” jokes in front of me.  While I was translating for them.  I suppose that experience kind of traumatized me and I was not going to have that happen again.

So I finished my juice, threw it in the trash, got out my meter and tested in front of everyone.  I wasn’t planning to but, I needed to tell myself to be confident and this was a way to force that upon myself.  By one simple and blatant act.  One man saw me and said to the man next to him, (and I’m translating) “Whoa, did you see that?  She pricked her finger and then licked the blood!”  I put my meter away and waited for the introduction.  Then, instead of my polite and gentle script, I veered off a little.  I mentioned that obviously, I didn’t have a clue how hard they’re jobs were.  I wasn’t aware of the challenges they faced day in and day out.  All I knew was some of them had been losing jobs, losing companies, losing money, and an unfortunate few had lost their lives.  So I asked they listen to what we had to say to them, bear with our Spanish, and just know that in the end, we weren’t giving them the information for our benefit, it was all about them.  A couple men got kind of wide eyed and nodded, respectfully.  The presentation went well. 

Luckily, a lot of men had questions-a great sign they were paying attention.  Some expressed gratitude for us presenting them with the information in Spanish.  One man said, “I was nervous today!  I felt like my business wasn’t going to last because I couldn’t understand the legal stuff and I’ve been feeling so left out.” 

I thought about how a big part of my nervousness that day had to do with dealing with my diabetes and how it made me feel different in a public, exposed way and how It was going to possibly cause my work not to go well.  I realized the people I was presenting to were feeling much the same way.  I wish I had known that before biting all my nails the night before.

Either way I now know confidence, true or faked, is very useful.  Sometimes, one of the biggest barriers between us and our health is how we fear we may be publicly perceived.  It’s happened to me quite a lot, especially when I was a teenager. 

To the non-diabetic bystander, testing blood sugar in front of a crowd doesn’t seem like a big deal.  Yet, you know what I’m talking about.  We’ve all been there.  Maybe during a first date, you didn’t feel comfortable whipping out your meter on the table with food or perhaps you prefer to deal with your diabetes related issues in the restroom at work so no one sees what you’re doing and think you’re not capable of your job.  The thing is, as valid as our feelings are, our health isn’t subjective.  It’s going to respond to what we do, when we do it.  So hopefully we are able to do whatever we must for our health.  It’s not always easy, but it’s worth it-we’re worth it. 

And just as I realized the day of the presentation, my fears of being the different one, the one left out, were not just my own.

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