Saturday, July 17, 2010

Airheads (but uh, not the candy)

first off, let me start with a disclaimer:
I am the world's most patient person.
No, really. That is not me being arrogant or bragging.
It's true. To the point of being a fault.
I don't make fun of people, I'm extremely patient (emphasis on extreme [this should explain its faultiness]), and I smile kindly at the most annoying and rude of people. Unless they're being rude to someone who can't help themselves...like the refugees I work with. Then I become like a lioness and will tear you to shreds. That, or like the time I saw some very mean children kicking a pigeon around that somehow had become disoriented and forgot it could, um, fly away. Either way, it was cruel and I rushed up and had some choice philosophical words for those kiddos. Then, I was not kind or patient. Just...honest. :)
*Phew*! What a tangent!
AnyHOO, I wanted to start with that lovely disclaimer because I don't want you to be put off by the title of this post (or the on-coming post, herein) and think me some kind of judgmental, intellectual snob. We all have our moments (as described in my above pigeon story) where we just can't take it. You know what I'm talking about. Ok, so I think I just lied, then. I am certainly not the world's most patient person if I have my moments where I just can't take it anymore. ;)
So tonight, being part of imperialist-consumer America, I wanted to go to the Body Shop in the mall (when do I ever go to damn mall?!) to look at their sale and buy some yummies for the upcoming mother in-law's birthday. She and I have this thing about really great creams and body butters now....so we're always on the look out for each other, haha. (Yes, I actually get along swimmingly swell with my in-laws....)
While we're at the mall, I just had to look in some of the shoe shops, because I do love shoes. When we went in, this girl, ohhhhhhh, this shop girl. Total antithesis of Steve Martin's brilliant character in his novella Shop Girl (yes, Steve Martin the comedian-actor is more than "just an actor": he majored in philosophy and writes real books, too). Wow, I am very tangential tonight! Note to self: never night-blog.
So this so-not-like-Steve-Martin's-Shop-Girl shop girl literally swoops down and clings on and won't let go. She likes the shoes I'm wearing. Thank you, shop girl. She wants to know my shoe size. 7 1/2. She sees I'm looking at Rocket Dogs and states that they are the most comfortable brand. Yes, I know this shop girl. That's why I'm wearing some and also looking at this lovely ballet flat. *Ahem* No, I don't actually think like that. ;)
But then, oh then. Shop Girl spies my insulin pump. Yes, it's green (Animas Ping!) So I can't complain, because I'm pretty loud and proud about Public Education in the World of Non-Diabetic Diabetes Education. But this girl. She began to come close to it. She's staring at it. Gabbing about it. Going on and on in this annoying giggling manner in which I could not get a word in edgewise to um, clarify a few things about the "cool Mp3 player" I seem to be wearing and oh-where-can-she-get-one.
"It's an insulin pump."
"A whaaaa?"
"An insulin pump. I have type 1 diabetes."
"OH! OH, oh oh! I just thought it looked so cool! Like, I love the color and thought it played music or was a cell phone or something. I just thought, like, where can I get one?! OH MY GOD, I had no idea! It just looks so
[get this]....normal."
"Well, I don't think you'd want to have to wear one of these 'Mp3 players'!"
She just flushed. Very red.
But that word normal. So problematic, eh? I am normal. I am healthy. I am happy. I'm just like everybody else and yet still very much unique me: we are all shattered and yet still whole (as Ron Rolheiser, a spiritual writer tells us.) You can't escape it, and yet can find so much comfort in it if you just embrace it as a fact of this beautiful, boombastically blessed life. We get so caught up in feeling awkward about ourselves no matter what's going "wrong" with our bodies that we forget that everyone's got something going on. Some people are just very good at hiding it or acting like nothing painful or difficult has ever happened to them. Difficulty and struggle are not always physical.
So why not use it as an opportunity to learn, to understand? Why always freak out and just start laughing and backing off? Why do we do that so much in the U.S? Is it just me thinking it's only an American thing?
I must give Shop Girl credit, though. She wasn't making fun of me. It was just the way she suddenly shut down and began hysterically laughing to deal with her own sense of..embarrassment? As if my disease and the need to wear an insulin pump was some private matter and she'd crossed the line with me. Yes, granted, some people I know are more private about their type 1. I completely respect that. And I have days and moments in my life, too, where I just don't wanna talk about it with you. Please just let me eat my food without you asking me a million questions. But most days I am open. Most days I'm happy to answer any and all questions people have because frankly, I know it confuses and [somewhat] fascinates people. When they meet someone who is open, they sometimes latch on viewing it as an opportunity to ask all of those questions they never felt they could ask more private people (Seriously, you shoulda heard my acupuncturist the first time she found out I had type 1! "Ohhh, can I see the site? How does this little machine work? How do you take it for a meal?" On and on. And on.)

I guess all I'm trying to say is that (and I think I'm quoting some other way more awesome members of the online type 1 diabetes blogging community here):
This is the new normal.
And I take no shame in that. It's not about showing off, either. It's just that this is my life now and I accept it. I live it to the fullest and have never, ever, ever stopped dreaming or loving life no matter what has come my way. I look forward to each and every day I am given, and find innovative ways to continue to do all of the things I did before I got type 1 at the age of 27. Each day is new and exciting and difficult and awful and ping-pongy and sweet and wonderfully BIG.
Even the days my green pump so does not match my outfit. :)


3 comments:

Julie said...

Hey,
I came across your blog when I was looking for fellow Type 1ers, and i must say, Ive had this same experience. And I'm usually totally open with my diabetes too. Like one time, this kid who I have known since i was like 8 came up to me and was like, "is that a pager, or an ipod?" Gosh, i was dumbfounded.
Anyways, i just wanted to say, I completely understand. Haha.

Julie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
birdy said...

aw, thanks for posting on my blog, julie! it's always so great to meet another type 1 who really gets it! xoxo.