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the audience

Ever since Madeline was diagnosed, she’s been ultra sensitive to people knowing that she has diabetes. She has balked many a time at being tested and given insulin in the presence of others. While I’ve tried to be sensitive to her feelings and respect her request for privacy, I’ve also been discussing with her the importance of other people knowing she has diabetes. We’ve talked about why it’s so important for diabetes to not be a secret, not only for her own well-being, but for the fact that there should be no shame in having diabetes.

Toward this end, we’ve tested and treated many times in public. Sometimes, I honor Madeline’s request for privacy. But most of the time, I support her and encourage her as we push through the experience in, say, the bath towel aisle at Target, at the dinner table at Uno’s, or on the bleachers at her baseball games. I don’t want her to learn that she has to hide out in this disease, nor do I want to shield the world from the fact that children struggle with it–and live their lives in spite of it–every single day.

Since I feel so strongly about this not hiding out thing, I’m puzzled by the feelings I had this weekend while treating D in a very public venue. Our family attended a Fisher Cats baseball game–our local AA team. Great day. Beautiful weather. We had seats five rows behind home plate. Our well-stocked D kit was ready to handle anything, including Madeline’s desire for…80-carb-fried dough. I couldn’t say no to such a yummy (and rare) treat, but I held my breath while calculating her very large insulin dose as she gobbled it down. As I crunched the numbers, I quickly became aware of the crowd of eyeballs surrounding us. Adults and kids alike sitting in front of us, next to us, and behind us, began to oggle our routine. Funny, Madeline seemed oblivious to the gaping stares in her fried-dough-intoxicated state. Meanwhile, I was aware, then increasingly annoyed. I had this visceral desire to bark “WTF are you staring at?! Haven’t you ever seen a kid get insulin before?!” Alas, I did no such thing. Instead, I raised my voice as I “talked” us through the dosing routine–my way of informing the gawking masses of what was going on. We got through it just fine, and Madeline was gloriously happy with her powdered sugar smile.

Later, I thought about this experience. Why was I so annoyed? I mean, I want people to know that Madeline has diabetes. Frankly, it’s a demand of mine. The more people who know, the safer she is, and the more aware everyone becomes about this dreadful disease. So, if I want everyone to know, well, then I can’t really be annoyed when the stares commence. What do I really expect people to say or do in response to such an unusual situation? I’m certain that most people have not encountered a child with diabetes, at least not in a way that makes D perfectly transparent. When they do, should I expect them to look away quickly, as though they were not curious or did not notice? Shouldn’t I be grateful that, in witnessing D-management first hand, they have become just a little bit more aware?

Yes, now that I think about it, I am grateful for all those stares. We educated a few more people that day at the ball park. Good for everyone.


About Heather Garcia Queen

I am… a mother of 3 spectacular children. A wife of an architect extraordinaire. An MSW. A psychologist in an elementary school. A (wishful) writer. A protector of family and spirit. A worshipper of the natural world. A seeker of knowledge. A lover of the arts. An introvert. A silver-lining kind of girl.


6 thoughts on “the audience

  1. I think the pump helped us a lot with the whole public thing. There were times I didn’t mind doing shots where ever and other times I almost felt like I should try not to be so open. I never knew why that was.

    I have always encouraged Justin to be open though. Like you, I think it is important to let others know for safety and for awareness.

    Posted by Lora | 05/31/2011, 1:45 am
  2. I agree that it’s important not to hide this important aspect of our children’s lives.

    The gawking can feel awkward, but you did awesome. Way to educate and advocate!

    Posted by Wendy | 05/31/2011, 4:07 am
  3. You are a D Mama Extraordinaire Heather! I feel the exact same…I wanted people to know…I think it is important for Joe’s safety and for advocacy and awareness. He doesn’t really know any different. He did once say to some guys on the Hockey Team…as he was getting checked … “What? You never seen someone get their blood sugar checked before?” I think it did bother him at that time.

    Sometimes I find my wants and desires in the D-arena conflict.

    Posted by Reyna | 05/31/2011, 10:27 am
  4. Hi…new to your blog, well I’m just blog hopping as I wait for the next BG check. I wanted to share my little story today – my son is 3 and wears an insulin pump. We’re pretty verbal about everything, but he’s shy about anybody saying or touching his pump other than his parents or his Nana. So, we’re at the Y and taking showers, one of the moms looks over and says, “ohhh, that looks so painful, is he okay?” I just looked at her and smiled, I kind of felt like I failed Isaac a little bit, but at the same time he was having fun (throwing soap at his brother) and didn’t hear the comment. The mother knows he has type 1 diabetes and that he has a pump, but I think it was the first time she realized that that meant there was something poking into him at all times. Maybe I educated just by allowing my son to be like the rest of the rowdy boys, hopefully. It’s a tough line though, when to say something and when to just keep moving. I’m glad you did everything just as you did, I’m glad your daughter didn’t hesitate to get the big carby deliciousness, I’m glad you shared this story on your blog – I needed to read it tonight, thank you.

    Posted by Sarah | 06/01/2011, 8:15 am
  5. Maybe this is too obvious to say (and months way too late!) but I worry more that people will notice/criticize/question the FOOD more than the needles. My son never eats fruit/vegetables from a lunch box, but I always put something in there—purely for show!—so imaginary adults who meander around, judging me by the contents of his lunchbox will know that I know he should eat fruit/veg. (And in my defense, he does–most days–or at least, quite often, eat fruit/veg at home.)

    Posted by Katy | 03/24/2012, 2:42 am

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This work by Heather Garcia Queen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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