Deanna's daughter sets an example for acceptance.
By Deanna Glick
Editor's Note: While this columnist is no longer writing for dLife.com and we have ceased to update the information contained herein, there is much to be read here that is still applicable to the lives of people with diabetes. If you wish to act on anything you learn here, be sure to consult your doctor first. Please enjoy the column!
April 2011 — My daughter is officially a little girl. She knows more Spanish words than I do. She knows it's cold in Antarctica. She knows Jupiter is bigger than Earth and has a lot of moons.
All of this comes courtesy of her fabulous Montessori preschool experience. But beyond filling her mind with new knowledge, the school has afforded my daughter the opportunity to expand her ever-widening social circle. Our neighborhood is chock-full of little girls. And mine regularly asks for one of her many pals to come over to play. A couple of weeks ago, she even asked to make the phone call herself.
As my daughter and her friends mature, the visible signs of my diabetes are becoming more noticeable to them. I notice the sometimes uncomfortable glances when Carlin's Mommy pulls her insulin pump out of her bra or squirts blood from her fingertip. Carlin will occasionally chime in with a "that's Mommy's diabetes" or "that's Mommy's pump." Her friends just sit in silence and try not to stare, clearly feeling shy about asking what the heck she's talking about.
Despite the strides society has made in accepting what's different, whether it be in terms of mental or physical illness, physical appearance, gender, sexual orientation, race and religious beliefs, there is still a basic human instinct to stare at what's different. And it's still considered impolite to ask questions.
I remember feeling compelled to stare at wheelchair-bound folks or birthmarked faces as a young girl. And who can ignore a mentally ill homeless man mumbling to himself at the bus stop?
Not much has changed, really. But I think we are starting to learn how to ask questions while remaining polite. And society seems to be developing greater cumulative appreciation for what we can learn from one another and what's different.
It would be easy enough to hide my pump and finger pricks from my daughter's friends. But I choose not to because I believe in shining a light on what's different and the value of learning from it. And when they feel comfortable enough to ask questions, I will answer them.
For now, my daughter serves as an example of acceptance for her friends. Even though they might not understand or be ready to understand, these little girls know what I'm doing isn't bad or scary. And I believe I transform the scary into safe by keeping it out in the open. When we do this, we are paving the way for the next generation of those who have the misfortune of a diabetes diagnosis. But, more importantly, I hope my courage in shining a bright light on what diabetes looks like paves the way for greater understanding of our need for advocacy and research. And, ultimately, I hope that leads to a world in which diabetes is no longer a difference we have to endure.
dLife's Viewpoints columnists are not all medical experts, but everyday people living with diabetes and sharing their personal experiences, most often at a set point in time. While their method of diabetes management may work for them, everyone is different. Please consult with your diabetes care team before acting on anything you read here to find out what will work best for you.
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