Visible On My Own Terms

So, last week was Invisible Illness Week and many of my friends in the online diabetes and health communities took to posting about this and answering 30 questions relating to their views on living with an invisible illness.

I didn't.

Life was busy. And I had enough real-world writing to do for my day job.

The weekend came, and as much as I appreciated reading the other posts and pondered doing up my own List of 30, I simply couldn't bring myself to do it. 30 is a lot, after all. And I'm not the greatest fans of just doing MeMes, anyhow (even though I wrote one up in 2010.)

But in reflecting on my own Type 1 diabetes over the weekend, it dawned on me: I actually did want to write something about this topic.

Simply, a message: My D was in fact INVISIBLE for most of last week, but it's not anymore in that same way. And it's by MY OWN choice.

See, I'd taken a pump hiatus a month or so ago. Tried one a year ago and had great success, and so I got to the point during the summer where it was time to try one again. Just a way to give my body a break from the every few day routine of connecting a new infusion set and going through that process. A mental break from pumping, a healthy "vacation" from that usual D-Management method, if you will. My life became one of a handful of shots a day. And in some ways, it was very freeing not being connected to a device 24/7.

One day, I saw another fellow Person With Diabetes outside my office building who had an insulin pump. He had a visible sign on his belt-line, but I didn't have my own pump to share and display. My diabetes was, even more than usual, "invisible" at that moment. I was Already Running Late and didn't have time to stop anyhow, so there was no meetup.

I'd been thinking about re-starting my pump, and this experience helped motivate me to re-start on my pump a day later. So, a few days into what was Invisible Illness Week, I made a move to make my diabetes not so invisible anymore. And it's once again something that is displayed for the world to see, should they choose. And if they don't just shrug it off as a pager...

So that's that.

I've now re-connected to the world of insulin pumping, and in a sense, here's me embracing this year's theme of “Deep Breath, Start Fresh."

Yes, I'm "normal" looking for all intensive purposes and for the most part my Type 1 diabetes doesn't present itself in situations where I don't want it to. Even when my pump is out there for all to see. It's important that my diabetes be something that is visible or invisible on my own terms. And though that sometimes isn't the case, most of the time it is. That is something I'm very grateful for.

And now, I choose to wear my pump again and make it a visible part of my life.


Unknown said…
I think this was the hardest part of deciding to place Joe on the pump when he was 3 years old. To be visibly "reminded" of "D" every time I looked at him hurt. Now I don't even give it a second thought...unless, of course, I see a pump on someone else.

Good luck with your "Fresh Start"!
Unknown said…
I love the empowerment. LOVE IT!

Congrats on your fresh start...on YOUR terms.

You're awesome, Mike! And if you decide to take a pump break'll be on YOUR terms then too.

Natalie said…
I took a pump vacation last week for the first time in 12 years, and HATED it. I don't have any pens, and syringes and vials and paying attention to insulin activity curves was just too much.

For me, diabetes IS invisible, in a way, because my pump is usually in my pocket, and it has taken me many years to get public about testing, but I finally did it. If it bothers other people, tough bananas. I do warn them to look away if they are freaked out by the sight of blood, but I AM going to do my thing when I need to.

Good luck with your own freedom campaign! :-)

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