I Can Explain

Some days you feel more diabetic than others. Last Saturday was one of those days.

In the course of a single evening, I had detailed discussions about diabetes with two strangers, a coworker, and one drunken acquaintance. And it’s all because I decided to wear short sleeves.

See, I’d taken a break from the side-butt sensor placement and opted for the outside of my upper left arm. It’s not usually a big deal, because I’m usually playing victim to my paralyzing upper-arm dysmorphia and rocking 3/4-length sleeves well into August. But last Saturday, I had plans to take in a minor league baseball game with a dozen coworkers. Outside. In the afternoon. In the mid-June Florida sunshine. The swensor was in full force, and there was no way I was wearing sleeves longer than two inches.

I'm just going to start carrying around a chart like this.

So there I was: out in the world with an exposed sensor! A big old clamshell taped to my pasty arm flesh, catching on my purse strap and knocking against stadium seating. The first person to vocalize his concern was a medic at the baseball stadium. I was walking back to my seat with a plastic cup full of delicious Yuengling, when Mr. Medic leaned over his portable defibrillator thingie. “Can I ask what’s on your arm?”

“Sure,” I said. “It’s a continuous glucose monitor. I have Type 1 diabetes and an insulin pump and this thing transmits my blood sugar levels to my pump so I can keep an eye on them.” The best part of this entire exchange was that I got to use my plastic cup of beer as a pointer.

“I would be a terrible diabetic,” he said. And I cringed — I hate it when people say that. “There’s this guy whose house we always have to go to? He has Type 1 and his Mom calls us when she can’t get ahold of him. We go into his house, find him passed out, squirt some pancake syrup in his mouth and then get a Hungry Man dinner from his freezer and stick it in his microwave. Then we make him eat it.”

“Wow,” I replied. What do you say to that?

“It’s crazy,” he said, “but if I had diabetes, I’d probably be the same way.” Before I could figure out how to respond, he had to run off with this defibrillator on wheels; someone was in worse shape than I was.

A while later I went to the bathroom, where an elderly woman at the sink asked me if I had #1 or #2. I was a bit taken aback — that’s quite a question to ask a girl who’s on her way out of a bathroom stall — but then I realized she was talking about diabetes. We chatted about my pump and she told me that she’d been diagnosed with “#2” at 18, but had later been told she had “#1.” Then she said, “You’re not big, though. You must walk a lot.” I cringed inside, but nodded and smiled politely and excused myself.

When I returned to my seat, my coworker asked, “What happened to your arm?”

“This!” I snapped, whipping around, “This! Is what I’m always bitching to our insurance company about! This is my CGM! This is what they won’t pay for!” It probably wasn’t the response he was expecting. Sorry, Mike.

After the game (which we won — go Suns!), some friends and I headed up to a local watering hole, where I had my most dramatic encounter. Random Acquaintance Dude (heretofore referred to as RAD) approached me, drink in hand. “Heeeey giiiirrrl,” said he. His gaze landed on my arm.

“What happened to you here?”

“It’s a glucose sensor,” I replied, deadpan. I was getting really tired of answering this question. “It goes with my insulin pump.”

“OHMIGAWWWWD! Your WHAT? Why do you have an insulin pump?!”

“I have diabetes. You know I have diabetes.” Come on, now.

He took two steps back and clasped his hands to his mouth, Home Alone style. “Jacquie, Nooooo!” Then he swept forward, embracing me in a sweaty squeeze. “OMIGAAAWWD you POOR THING! I had no idea! Are you okay? Should you be drinking? Do you feel all right? Are you sick? Does it hurt? Are you okay? When did this happen? Why didn’t you tell me? Will you ever get better? Why? I didn’t know! Oh my goodness!”

“I’m fine,” I said. “I swear.” We went around like this two or three times, until he was finally convinced that I was not, in fact, on my deathbed.

I’d been looking forward to Children With Diabetes Friends for Life anyway, but Saturday sealed the deal. I fell asleep that night, thinking about the event, and it struck me: I get to go an entire week without having to explain what my pump is to anyone!

That, friends, will truly be a vacation.

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11 comments on “I Can Explain

  1. Patrick McConnell says:

    My Stock Answer goes like this:

    Idiot: Whats that on your arm?,
    Me: (annoyed but smiling) Have you ever seen the Movie “Mission Impossible”?
    Idiot: (suddenly very Interested) Why Yes, Yes i Have!!!
    Me: (In reassuring voice) Then you KNOW why I can`t tell you,
    Idiot: (confused and silent)!!!!!

    Here endeth the lession…

  2. Joanne says:

    Oh how I love your posts… they make me laugh! Elise has to answer those questions all the time, and she gives the kids a look like, “how could you NOT know what this is?” Then she whips out her receiver and shows them what her number is.

  3. FatCatAnna says:

    Again, a great post that cracks me up!!! I’m losing my one and only pumping diabetic friend tomorrow – he’s heading slowly back home to NZ after staying here in Montreal for a year. I am going to miss him soooooo much ’cause we get each other so well – no explaining like you say to each other. I’m hoping when I do my CWD volunteer bit with the teen’s end of July in July (only a w/e tho’ – not a full week which would have been uber fun) – that I’ll have a great experience like you’ll all be having in Florida with fondling Mickey’s ears, etc. etc.

  4. Heather says:

    Ive started saying my pump is my beeper, which brings all questions to a halt. People won’t make fun of you (to your face, anyway) for being stuck in 1998. Love your posts!!!

  5. Scully says:

    I think it is my fierce bitchy personality or something like that but I rarely get questions!
    I wear my infusion sets on my arms loud and proud. I hang my pump out and about sometimes even hanging from my neck hole and yet I never really get questioned.

    I’ve been told my natural “face” looks a bit miserable (quite the compliment no?) and I wonder if that turns people away.

    Carry a bad-ass look on your face. Nobody wants to ask it seems.

    and to drunk guy conversation? HAHAHAHAHA, that was priceless.

  6. Julie says:

    Love your blog! Thanks for sharing your wit and humor to make us all feel normal 🙂

  7. MartYn says:

    That did put a smile on my face 🙂 Being on MDI I hardly ever have people asking me questions, because not many people see me do my injection. But when I do explain I too get the “Ooo I could never do that” type comments. But when you reply with “But then you’d be dead” their face soon changes and the penny drops, that I do it because I have to not because I want to.

    The drunken caring hug is priceless! I bet that made you feel really special 😛

    When I was diagnosed I told one co-worker, who looked like she was going to cry. I told another and they burst into laughter. Talk about both ends of the scale type reactions!

  8. This cracked me up. I hate it when people just feel that they can randomly come up to you and ask what is on your body. It’s really rude and strange. I tend to do whatever I can to hide my pump, especially at work. I tuck it into the waist band of my pants or stuff it down my bra. On the weekends I’m a little more laid back with it, and I definitely get questions sometimes. Sometimes I just tell people that it’s a pager and I’m a drug dealer still living in the 90s. That usually shuts them up. I have a whole slew of responses that keep ready because I just don’t always feel like being a D advocate.

  9. shannon says:

    Catching up on the blog backlog, hey-oh! This post was, as ever, hilarious. For some reason, the hungry man dinner part really got to me. wtf.

    Anyway, it was so rad meeting you! Hope you made it home safely! 🙂

  10. Penney says:

    Makes me think of when I got my pump, a coworker (an ICU RN like me, only older) said, “Oh, you must have it BAD then. Pumps are for people who are out of control.” What-the-frick-ever. Sigh.

  11. […] happened to Kim and Jacquie earlier this summer, but until last Friday it had never happened to […]

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