I wasn’t planning on writing about this; it was something that happened about a month ago, and at the time, I just didn’t have the energy to put into it. But my thoughts on the topic wouldn’t stop, and this weekend, they went into overdrive. So, here goes.
Last month, diabetic social media circles were a buzz with news about type-1 beauty queen Miss Idaho. Can you believe it, they fluttered. She wore her insulin pump on her dress and bikini – for ALL to see!!! Shocking, right! Congratulations, they applauded. Good for you, they clapped. Wahoo, score one for Team Type 1, they cheered. And for those who actually think the Huffington Post has any credibility (please, don’t get me started on that!) they, too, endorsed her as an inspiration for all diabetic women. Only a few expressed their disgust towards it, up in arms about this young woman exploiting her body in such a mind-dumbing experience.
But me, frankly, I didn’t get it.
I didn’t understand what made this young woman such a diabetes superstar. I wasn’t angrily opposed at her choice to participate in the beauty pageant. If she’s confident enough to prance around in a barely there bikini and doll herself up in Dynasty style sparkly gowns and sound like a broken record with “World Peace” then that’s her prerogative. But seriously, how does standing in front of a panel of drooling and catty judges – with your insulin pump on display – make you a superstar?
I don’t get it.
If that truly is all it takes, I should be the most famous diabetic chick around. I have never hidden my pump. Since Day 1 it has been clicked on my belt or my waist band for all to see. Even with most dresses, it’s not obscured. I don’t have ample breasts, so I can’t store it there, not unless I want to start the square boob trend; I have no use for so-called “diabetic-helpful” waistbands and leg bands; nor am I keen to stuff it in an already snug jeans pocket.
This weekend, I swear my insulin pump must have been glowing neon with the amount of times I was stopped. Over two days, I had three people stop me to ask about it – two complete strangers and one acquaintance. (Likely due to the infusion in my arm; my go-to stabbing spot as of late.)
It’s not the first time this has happened. I’ve been stopped by moms whose children have diabetes, a pregnant woman with diabetes, a man whose wife is a nurse, a couple of doctors whose baby nephew has diabetes, a co-worker whose twin has diabetes, an elderly woman whose brother is on the pump, curious onlookers who have no diabetes in their family, etc., etc.. They’re all very apologetic, almost like they feel they’re being intrusive. Not at all. I have no problem telling them about it, answering their questions, sharing a bit of my story, listening to theirs. And frankly, I feel their stories are far more rock star than a potato-proud beauty queen.
The mom who sews her little boy jet pack style inserts for his insulin pump on the back of his onesies so he’d feel more superhero than sickly. SUPERSTAR!
The mom in the retail outlet who had been researching insulin pumps for her teenage daughter and used me as another studying tool. SUPERSTAR!
The pregnant woman on the seawall who proved the myths of diabetes wrong with her watermelon belly and wanted to learn more about arm infusions. SUPERSTAR!
The elderly lady who was shocked to see the infusion in my arm, but open-minded enough to want to learn more for the benefit of her brother. SUPERSTAR!
Maybe I’m wrong about the effectiveness this beauty queen had with her insulin-pump strutting walk, but I just don’t see why her act of simple beauty is poised as diabetic inspiration. I’m sure she’s got some great qualities, maybe even superstar ones, but truly, a month has passed and all I remember is a pretty young woman dressed to the nines with an insulin pump accessory attached to the outside of her dress. I see pretty people all the time – some are most definitely NOT superstars.
So, the next time you see an insulin pump on display, please don’t automatically label the person attached to it as heroic, because not all of us are. Ask questions first, then decide: Superstar? Or not?
1:15 p.m. BG before: 7.4
Temp. basal: none
Carbs: (45 minutes prior, no bolus) 1/2 PB and banana sandwich (30g)
Distance: (10′ warmup with 4×30 second sprints, 4×500 metre sprints, 10′ cool down)
Average interval pace: 4:45 min/km
2 p.m. BG after: 5.2
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While I haven’t asked the questions, I have gotten to know you well enough to say….In my books, you are a SUPERSTAR!
There are all kinds of pictures out in the internet world of people with colostomy bags now. I thought to myself, “Gee I had to get a bag to be part of the in-crowd”! Are people with bags and insulin pumps heroic? Maybe not in a sensationalized sense. But I’ve seen your strength and perseverance. I know what some people who have a colostomy have gone through. Would we be here on earth without these devices? No! Have we struggled a lot to this point in our lives. H E Double Hockey sticks we have.
But if this media frenzy about colostomy bags, insulin pumps and ice water buckets for ALS helps people “out there” have more of an understanding, makes them ask questions, have more compassion, and lessens the stigma.. Then I’d like to be that hero. A “hero” that enlightens and informs people of what we consider “normal” living. .
I thought I left a comment. I guess I did in my head.
I LOVE THIS POST. thank you thank you thank you.