Privacy. Disability. Normal. These are three words that I have been pondering a lot over the last few days for a variety of reasons.
Privacy. My son is very private about his diabetes. He is very discreet when he tests or boluses. He does not tell people that he has diabetes. He does not like anyone to know when he is high or low. That scares me. I can understand not wanting to be singled out. I get not wanting to be "different" especially when you are in your teens but people need to know to understand. They need to know so that they can help you. As we saw the other weekend, he even keeps the highs and lows from me at times. Thankfully he now wakes me for the lows before he goes to bed at night but diabetes has become so routine for him, I guess, that he doesn't want any intrusions.
This desire not to be different led me back to another word that had been swimming through my head--disability. In Canada we get very defensive about this word. Many groups work hard to argue that diabetes is NOT a disability. I can see that view. People like my son do not want to be labelled. They are not in a wheel chair. They can feed themselves. They are not disabled.
But then there is that word "normal" and when you live with diabetes life is not normal. There is nothing "normal" about force feeding a child a peanut butter sandwich at three in the morning just so that they are able to wake up to see another day. There is nothing normal about making yourself bleed ten or more times a day just to be able to function. There is nothing normal about poking yourself with a needle just to stay alive.
Three words. Should you be private about diabetes? Is it a disability? Does diabetes allow you to live a normal life? Three powerful words. I have my own answers as a mother but they probably won't jive with my son's. The only one that I can clearly define is "normal" because long ago, a good friend told me that normal is only a setting on the dryer.