A Positive Diabetic Story


I tried to be positive for a week.  It was not altogether very –

Wait.  I’ll rephrase that.

My positive week had great potential to be more positive.

I find that negative things sometimes fly out of my mouth the moment it is open, a bit like a cat desperate to escape its carry case.

Or more conventionally, you can think of it as a reflex arc: just as a hammer hits the patellar ligament and the knee jerks upwards, so information reches my brain and my tongue forms negative words.

Or else my fingers do. Yesterday I had a conversation on a closed Facebook group (therefore the context has been completely changed) that went a bit like this:

Someone: – Do you think we should bring elephants along?

Me: – Oh yes.  I hate it so much when elephants get excluded.

Someone else: – I think involving elephants would be a really positive thing.

My forehead hit the table in frustration.  DOH!  That’s what I should have said!  It sounded so much warmer!

But anyway:  relax and breathe deep because I have a positive story.

On Thursday I was sitting in the pub with the hubby and a Pale Rider –


Yes!  A beer!  See, it’s positive already.  My current locum job involves Thursdays off.  The kids are already in nursery on Thursday afternoons which means that hubby and I have a few hours alone together.  Yesterday we spent them at the climbing wall, followed by a couple of swift halves.

Anyway: the pub door opened and in came a couple.  She had on a running top and outdoor-style trousers.  And clipped to her trouser belt I spied an insulin pump.

And yes; that’s it.  That’s my positive story.

Elspeth Oct12-pr13 140

If the positiveness of this experience is yet to smash you in the face, let me expand.

It’s rare to meet another Type 1 diabetic.  That’s not scrictly true:  there are 400,000 Type 1s in the UK so one in one-hundred-and-sixty people has it.  But it’s rare to meet one knowingly.  No matter what the Daily Mail tell you, we’re not instantly recognisable because we’re fat or slow or on the floor having a hypo or blind or one-legged or carrying a sack marked DRUGS that we have just robbed from the NHS.  No: diabetics look normal, like me (Ho! Ho!).  So how would you ever pick one out?

It might be easiest to spot the injectors.  Injectors tend to have an injection when they eat.  But a lot of injectors scuttle off to the toilet at this point, so as not to offend any of their company.  (Well it’s not because the public toilet is the most hygenic place to receive a subcutaneous injection, is it?) Or else they have perfected such slieght of hand that their dining companions barely notice.  There are probably a few like I used to be who just stab themselves publicly and have done with it, but that invites comment on their manners (and often on their meal choice) so I expect that they are very few.

Pumps in comparison are extremely descrete.  You can hide them under your clothing and operate them from your key-fob.  And a lot of the pumping population use them subtly like this, because wearing an insulin pump can be like wearing a label:

I have very, very bad diabetes.

I need a bionic pancreas.

Or simply, I am a freak.

I once tried to explain to a care assistant I was working with that I didn’t have a pump because my diabetes was ‘worse’ than average (surely, your body either makes insulin or it doesn’t), but because I wanted to control it better.  She wasn’t having any.

‘My friend hasn’t got one and her diabetes is really, really bad,’ she said, ‘so I can only think what yours must be like.’


But anyway, I have forgotten to be postive for a while so let’s go back to Thursday. There were two women in the pub on Thursday, completely independent of one another, who:

a)  had impeccable taste in beer

b) had indulged in some healthy exercise

c) had insulin pumps on the outside of their clothes.

These women were not worried about people knowing about their pump, or that they were diabetic.

The presence of a pump was probably lost on most of the people who saw them, but the point is that had anyone happened to look twice, they would have seen that diabetic people can have a lovely time, can exercise and can drink beer.  And that having an illness is a very tiny and coincidental part of who they are and not something that they feel they need to cover up.

And if that’s not positive, I have no idea what is.


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