Wednesday, August 29, 2007

We're All In This Together!

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”.


Penny said...

I found your blog through a comment on another blog.

It is great to get a D perspective from someone your age.

My son, Riley, was diagnosed when he was 3. He is 5 now and just started kindergarten on Monday.

I worried so much that the other kids would make fun of him. But, so far, they barely seem to notice. He's had one kid who has asked what his pump is, but that's it. He doesn't have a school nurse so all of his testing and bolusing is done in the classroom.

I plan on adding a link to your blog later today if that's OK.

Cara said...

Hi! I just stumbled across your blog today and am loving it! I was diagnosed at age 4 (I'm not 26). Up until recently, I felt kind of like you in that I felt "alone" with my diabetes. I have always shared it with other's around me, but no one really understands. The Diabetes OC has helped me so much. You seem like a really smart and motivated person to be only 15. You keep up your hard work w/ D and you will be fine. I have no complications after 22 years. You can check out my blog if you'd like. I am also going to add you to my blogroll if that is okay.
p.s. One of my best friends from college lives in MD and I am up there a couple of times per year!

Jeff said...

Hi Jillian.

Thank you for such illustrative descriptions of your experiences. Even to this day, as I close in on 50 years old, it is sometimes difficult for me to deal with being "different" among other folks.

Whenever Nancy and I are out to dinner with people, I still try to program my pump's bolus as inconspicuously as possible, not wishing to attract any undue attention. But I have to realize that, if someone notices, or becomes inquisitive, I should deal with the differences in our health just as I deal with our other differences. Everyone has a different nose, a different height, hair color, outlook on life, likes, dislikes, shoes, pets, etc. Usually, all of those items are discussable, to various extents.

That we get our insulin from an outside source is something that makes us different, too, even though I will probably spend the rest of my life trying to fully conquer what remains of my dumb diabetes complex.

I love the "stab" reference. The OC is chock full of new insight.

I'll be listing your site on the MOBs (More Outstanding Blogs) section of my home page at in a few minutes. Keep writing. You do it well.


Donna said...

Hi Jillian,
I stumbled upon your blog while reading Cara's a while ago. You write so well & I couldn't believe you were just 15 years old. But I think having diabetes sometimes makes a person wise beyond their years. I've had diabetes for over 37 years & have no complications and Lord willing, I never will.

Like you, I was - and to a certain extent - still am - a hidden diabetic. I was diagnosed at age 7. And went through the rest of my school years with most people in my small school (about 400 or so kids) not knowing I was a diabetic.

It sounds like you've been very fortunate having a mom that would let you handle disclosing your diabetes in your own way. And it's nice that you have friends that are supportive of you, too.

Keep on blogging - I enjoy reading your posts. It takes me back to when I was a teenager dealing with this. It sounds like you're doing a great job.