Yes, the title does reference High School Musical.
For most of my childhood and adolescence with diabetes, I was always a hidden diabetic among other kids my age. I think it was the fact that I had no idea what diabetic meant when I was 5 and made the decision that I wasn’t going to share it with others. I remember going to the nurses office in kindergarten and 1st grade alone. I remember snack time in the corner of the back of the class in 2nd grade, I was “fruit roll-up girl”. When the other kids asked why I had a snack in the back, I just ignored them or said because my mom wanted me too. I was not into sharing it, it was something for behind closed doors, in the back of classrooms, and restaurant bathrooms. It took me over a year to tell my best friend (R) who I met in 5th grade. We talked on the phone everyday after school, sat next to each other in every class, and yet I could not share this thing that was a part of me. I was afraid. I wanted to be Jillian, best friend, funny, cool, and creative. Not Jillian the Diabetic. But guess what happened the first time she saw me test? She asked if she could do it too. The first time she saw me give myself a shot, she said, “If you ever need me to, I’ll stab you, okay?” We still joke about this comment. That reaction was all I needed to know it would be okay to tell. I even do shots in front of most of my friends, too. Before I told my mom I don’t do it because I don’t want to scare them. In truth I was the one who was scared. I have another friend (K) who says she likes to pretend I’m a druggie, because it makes me cool. (Yes, K is out of her mind) Who knew “shooting up” in the back of a station wagon so you can eat some ice cream was cool? So whenever I feel it is necessary I tell. I have another friend (D) who I told after being friends with her for 5 years. I know crazy. But I was scared, paralyzed by how different being diabetic made me. You know what she said, “Oh so that’s what the fruit roll-ups were about in 2nd grade.” It didn’t phase her. I can remember going to sleepovers when I was younger. My mom would call the other mom to talk about my diabetes and the fact that she would come over in the morning before breakfast to give me a shot. She would pull up outside, I would run out hop in get my shot and go back inside. When I returned, my lie was usually something like “I forgot to take this pill (for something or another).” I thank my mom so much for letting me keep it my business until I was ready, but making sure I was safe. I thank all of my friends for being supportive, and not living up to my worst fears of making me different or weird. And now I have the OC, who knew virtual strangers could make me feel less alone in this. It’s one thing to have people accept something that is a part of you, but it’s another to actually have people who are dealing with that same “something”.