Wednesday, September 15, 2010

What you THINK you see . . .

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.


  1. Simply, Thank you.

    I want to post something similar for Joe.

    This was great.

  2. This is a great post..thank you!
    I am often feeling the need to explain why I am pushing buttons on my sons pump remote which might look like a phone or why I AM using my phone as a calculator to figure out a carb count. Really, I am not texting in the middle of our conversation..just trying to take care of my sons diabetes!!
    A little compassion can go a very long way and things really are not always what they look like!

  3. Mmmm hmmm, you said it sister. I was bumped out of bus seat by a lady only a decade or so older than I am (she had no visible ailment either...) when I felt like I was going low and really needed to test and treat. The bus was too crowded to do it standing up, and she made me give up my seat anyway. I went on to explain to her that all disabilities may not be visible to the naked eye, blah blah blah, and she took the seat anyway.

  4. Very well put. I never thought about the "sitting in car" part. Makes complete sense. Now I won't be so quick to wonder what the heck that person is doing! And you'd think I would know.

  5. Very true. Sometimes what you see ISN'T always what you get. :)

  6. This describes the invisibility of diabetes (particularly T1) so very well.

    I'm the girl who always orders eggs at the diner and always leaves most of the toast and home fries behind. Sigh...

  7. Outstanding post, Karen. Thank you for sharing this, and writing it in such an awesome, realistic way.

  8. This was a great point of view - very well said!

  9. You brought up some good points. Nicely done, Karen.

  10. Thanks Karen.
    I had been trying to come up with something like that but couldn't put the words together.

  11. Wonderful post.
    Tomorrow is Nate's 1-year with D. Do you mind if I link to a few of your posts on my blog tomorrow?

  12. This was a great post!! THANKS for writing such a great one!


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