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Kos Diabetes Group: Be an Ambassador – Daily Kos

I had lunch the other day with a friend.  We met several years ago when her grandson and my daughter were both students at the same school and we were in the PTO.  We spent many hours together at meetings and volunteering for events and so became friends.  Even though my daughter has graduated, we have remained in touch and occasionally meet up for lunch.  
We met at a local fast food restaurant for lunch and there was much lively discussion about what our families were up to.  After we finished eating, we just stayed in the restaurant since it wasn’t busy and talked for almost two hours.  I had set a timer when I was done eating to remind me to check my glucose and when it went off, I pulled out my kit and discreetly checked my level.  If I’m out in public I don’t often go to a restroom if I need to check my glucose unless I know the restroom has a handicapped stall with a diaper changing area in it.  Most restroom sinks don’t have enough room to set a monitor on without being fearful that it will end up in the sink or floor and I hate trying to sit on a toilet to test so I usually just put my kit in my lap under the table so no one gets grossed out by the blood (if that bothers them).  
My friend heard the timer go off and saw me take the little case with my kit out of my purse and asked me what I was doing.  I told her it had been an hour since I had finished eating and I needed to check my glucose level.  She was surprised to learn that I was a diabetic and so started asking me all kinds of questions – How long was I diabetic, how did I find out, how often did I test, etc.  I answered all her questions.  I showed her my monitor and test strips and explained how it worked.  She said she has a niece that recently found out she is diabetic.  She uses a pump.  My friend asked me about how pumps work so we talked a little about how CGMs and pumps work.  She wanted to know if diabetes would go away and I told her no.  Once you were diagnosed you would always be diabetic but you may be a well-controlled diabetic and have no major side effects.  She said she has another friend who was recently diagnosed who was talking to her like her diabetes was going to disappear.  I told her there isn’t any magic pill (yet) that her friend may be able to control her glucose levels with diet and exercise but she will still be diabetic even if she doesn’t take any medications.  
She wanted to know if I was scared when I found out I was diabetic.  I had to tell her no since I had been through gestational diabetes with both my pregnancies, so I knew what I needed to do.  Even the gestational diabetes wasn’t that scary because my sister had been pregnant the year before me and also had gestational diabetes.  My sister had shared with me what she was going through so I was prepared and knew I could get through it.  I told my friend how lucky I felt because insulin is only 100 years old.  Before that, being diabetic was a death sentence.  With the help of some oral medications, I can expect to live a long life.
Finally, it was time for us to part with a hug and a promise to meet up again soon.  I kept thinking about our conversation and how although so many Americans are diabetic or have family members who are diabetic, there are many people who know nothing about diabetes and how to support their friends and family members who are.  I want to be an ambassador for those people whose lives/families may not have been touched yet by diabetes and to help them understand the disease and how diabetics deal with it.  To not feel fear or panic with the diagnosis but a sense of “I can do this and it’s not going to get me down.”  I will continue to answer questions about my diabetes and how I deal with it from any curious non-diabetics who ask.  I hope you are able to do this as well. People need to understand that a diabetes diagnosis isn’t the end of the world.


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