Sunday, January 25, 2015

With a Side of Privilege, Thanks.

Last Monday was the glorious phenomenon known as a day off from work! Obviously the post-holiday season blues hit everyone pretty hard, but luckily there's good old MLK Jr., there to save the day and give everyone a bit of a respite.

On this day, and every day, it's hard not to feel my privilege when dealing with this disease (I tell you what though, I am NOT privileged in my spelling of this word because the flipping red dotted line comes up EVERY TIME! How am I so bad at this word?!).

Anyway, on a serious note. Of course a chronic disease is not what anyone wishes for. But after spending time in the ICU, looking at all the other folks in there with a full menu of health issues, being handed one like diabetes felt like a decent deal. Especially since, like every dutiful WebMD-er out there, I'd basically convinced myself that I had a variety of terminal diseases. One thing I have come to realize since my diagnosis, is that everyone seems to have their stuff. It's actually been really interesting, having diabetes as a sort of conversation starter, and getting in touch with a side of people I probably wouldn't have known about. Fairly often, seeing my Dexcom, or watching me check my blood sugar, or simply knowing me as a colleague with diabetes, people will open up to me about health issues or concerns they are dealing with, that I never would have known about. I feel like it enables me to emphasize on a whole new level, which, as a teacher, is really a kind of gift. A kind of gift.

That in and of itself comes tied to a certain privilege though. A big reason people are so sympathetic towards me, is that they look at my young, fit, society-approved body and immediately ask "Type 1?" And since I am, I say yes. I am privileged that my variety of the disease elicits immediate thoughts of "It's not your fault" and "Poor you" and "You're handling it so well." This is not the case for others with variations of diabetes, and I can't imagine the struggle it must be to have a disease, have to be dealing with both that AND people's inevitable assumptions and judgements about you.

I am privileged that I am literally walking around with two strange looking devices strapped to my body, along with boxes of juice, syringes, and needles, yet because I am also walking around in young, white, female, non-threatening skin, I make it through TSA with minimal hassle.

For the same reason as above, I am privileged to know that, should I even become hypoglycemic in a store, I would not think twice about the hassle involved in drinking a juice I hadn't paid for yet, or eating food straight off the shelves.

I am privileged that, while I do have my own health insurance and pay for all my own medical bills, should this ever not be possible I have a steady partner, immediate family, and extended family who could and would all help me pay my bills and get the best care available.

I am privileged that I was diagnosed after the ACA came into effect, and that I live in a state where it is held to some of the highest standards, leaving me confident that I will always have health insurance.

I am privileged that I grew up in an affluent household, where I learned how to advocate for myself, and that I deserve a high standard of care from my medical and insurance companies. I am privileged that I learned how to work the system, call high up contacts, and generally navigate these often convoluted systems.

There are more, always more, but it always helps to remind myself of these things. On a day when the beeping and buzzing of various devices wakes me up every 2 hours, or when the slightest whiff of carbohydrates sends my sugars skyrocketing, and my whole life feels totally out of control upside down, these positive thoughts can be the most important tool for diabetes management that I have. 

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