Out of Sight, Out of Mind?

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My parents will be here this weekend—actually, for about one week—and I’m getting a bit stressed already about what to do about my diabetes care. It’s kind of silly, really, but I don’t like to check my blood glucose or do anything with my insulin pump in front of Mom.

I’ve done an infusion set change-out for television and, once, at my table in a restaurant (ducking into the bathroom to insert the catheter) and never much cared who saw me check my blood glucose or even give myself an injection. But when it comes to Mom, it’s a different matter.

My feelings go back a long way, to her reaction when I first told her I have diabetes. To her, it was the end of the world. If I mention anything, her lip kind of curls and she gets this pitying look on her face. My sister-in-law’s brother has Type 1 diabetes and, for ages, I heard (from Mom) about how miserable he is. Turns out he isn’t miserable at all and has a very good attitude about it.

Despite the fact that her own mother had Type 2 diabetes and departed this world at the age of 98½ minus one toe (and that was it) from a diabetes complication, Mom tends to focus on more-distant members of the family who had diabetes and weren’t as fortunate. A great-aunt died after she stopped taking her insulin; a half-uncle had every diabetes-related complication under the sun; and a very distant cousin died at a young age from a heart attack.

The fact that I got hypoglycemia at my daughter’s wedding reception and yelled at Mom when she tried to get me to eat something probably didn’t help. (Hey—they should have served dinner on time. Or she should have let her favorite son-in-law take care of it.)

After 20-plus years, I’ve mostly made my peace with diabetes. I still have my moments, but they’re infrequent now. I am no longer obsessive-compulsive about reading books about diabetes. I no longer sit and think, "I have to do this for the rest of my life?!" when I stick my finger. I no longer scream with the frustration of it all. Well, not very often.

As I said, I have my moments, such as when my blood glucose runs high for no apparent reason—or vice versa. After years of experience, I pretty much know how to troubleshoot and, most importantly, I know that this, too, shall pass.

But I don’t know how to tell Mom that, and I can’t stand to see that "look" on her face. Actually, I did tell her about the "look" once, and she was unaware that she did that.

So, instead of leaving my supplies and such all over the house and doing a change-out, checking my blood glucose, or programming an insulin bolus anytime and anyplace I want, I suppose it’s about time to move everything into the bedroom and hide when I need to take care of my diabetes.


Happily, I won’t be here as long as Mom is staying. As soon as the bat mitzvah festivities are over this weekend, I’m taking Dad fishing. He’s always enjoyed fishing but, at the age of 83, he doesn’t get around too well any more. When I called him last month to wish him a happy birthday, he was bemoaning the fact that he couldn’t go fishing any more. The little light bulb went on over my head and I knew just what to give him.

There’s a private lake with a handful of cabins near here and I’ve rented one of them for the two of us. It’s an easy (and level) walk out onto the dock that comes with the cabin and he can sit on a chair and fish all day long. I’m not into fishing, but I can kick back, read, and relax. And drink beer with Dad.

The best part? Since he has diabetes, too, I won’t have to hide.

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