This week is Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week. Those in the know might be able to spot a diabetic at 50 paces when they spy an insulin pump or a CGM sensor or see a finger stick happening. But for the most part, those things are easily overlooked (or sometimes consciously hidden) and diabetes is a pretty invisible illness. And sometimes I wonder what people THINK they see when they look at me . . . .
You might see a girl who is just hanging out alone in her car. It must seem kind of odd that I’m just listening to the radio with no apparent place to go. In reality, I’m quite frustrated because I need to get my groceries home and into the refrigerator, but can’t drive until my low blood sugar comes up.
I might be at the diner for breakfast and you hear me ordering eggs with a grimace on my face as my husband orders pancakes. You probably are a bit judgmental, wondering why I don’t just order the pancakes if I want them so bad. But I can’t order them, because my current blood sugar is too high to even think about ordering any carbohydrates - especially a minefield like pancakes.
You might see me at my laptop, playing stupid games on my computer. You probably think I have way too much time on my hands. Actually, I have urgent emails to answer and some blog posts I need to write, but another low blood sugar has my mind so fuzzy that I can't work on those right now.
Perhaps you’ve seen me at a speech or performance (or worse yet, a funeral) and glared at me when my beeper or Smartphone went off. I’m sure you thought it was rude that I didn’t switch them to silent out of respect. Believe me, I was very embarrassed that my pump beeped at the worst moment possible and that I needed to test my blood sugar.
Remember, all illnesses are not visible. What you think you are seeing is often not the case. And a little bit of compassion can go a long long way.