Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Bravery and Billy Boudreau

"Wow, you're pretty brave," said Billy Boudreau, his red hair falling over the large bruised spot on his forehead.

We were sitting in Sister Louise's office lobby at Our Lady of Consolation School (a misnomer if there ever was one, in terms of the "consolation" piece) I had just taken my brick-sized Accucheck meter from my "med box," and was preparing to lance my left index finger. Billy had been fighting -- again -- on the playground and was awaiting a meeting with Sister Louise, the pointy-faced nun that served as school principal.

I turned my body from him as I lanced my finger and squeezed a droplet of blood big enough to cover the test strip and set my machine to time the test.

"Do you do this EVERYDAY?" He asked.

I didn't answer. In my head, I willed the machine to please, please tick off the seconds faster. 54, 53, 52, 51...

"Fine." He said. And we sat in the silence with his bruised forehead and my disease.

I whispered a thank you as my bloodsugar came in at 97. That meant I could go back to class -- and get out of here.

I left that office and snuck straight to the washroom. The tears started falling as I hit the doorway. I locked myself in the nearest stall. I wasn't sure why in hell I was crying. I wasn't sad.

Then it registered -- I was angry. Furious, in fact.

How dare that bully take pity on me. The more I thought about it, the angrier I got.

Billy Boudreau was a mean kid. He tortured younger kids in the schoolyard, he threw rocks actually AT people, he had broken one of the parish priests' prized stained-glass bird baths. He made fun of the two retarded children that rode the bus with some of us in the morning, he laughed at and harassed kids who wore hand-me-downs. He was petty and cruel for no reason.

And he pitied me. And this stupid disease fascinated him. How infuriating. How humiliating.

I hated him.

I spent the better part of the next two school years -- my sixth and seventh grade years -- pushing Billy Boudreau's buttons. It was stupid, I know. The kid never had a problem beating up girls, so I often landed up bruised and sore. But I didn't want his pity. I wanted him to feel the same silly, petty spite for me that he seemed to feel for all of our other schoolmates.

And I wanted people to see me as brave for reasons outside of the way I dealt with diabetes. I wanted them to know that I would not accept pity.

Pity still makes me angry. I don't want you to feel sorry for me. I am not your victim, unless I choose to be, which is, I guess, precisely what I was doing in the years after that day in the office - picking my victim-hood.

Feel sorry because the bully smashed my face in because I called him fat.

But don't ever feel sorry because my fingers are covered in callouses or because I wear my pancreas like a beeper. Or because my bloodsugar won't go up or down. If you do, you're likely in for a fight.


Shannon said...

I don't know, the impression I got from Billy is that he was in awe of you doing something every day that looked so painful.

But then you know the tone that was in his voice which could identify his words as pity.

I think you're brave for pushing Billy's buttons and not being afraid of getting beat up.

Girls kick ass.

Nicole P said...

Maybe the reason that I find the whole incident so amusing now is that I think it might not have been pity... I don't know, maybe it was something else.

But in my eyes, then, Billy *couldn't* be in awe of anyone... And I hated that it seemed like he chose me, rather than anyone else, to feel pity for, to be fascinated with...

Penny said...

Nicole I felt the same way when my son was diagnosed. I saw all of the nurses in the office looking at me with such pity and it made me mad and actually gave me strength.

Sandra Miller said...


Reading this post, I could see my 10-year old son (dx'd type 1 just over a year ago) doing the same.

Wonderfully written.

I'm adding a link to your site this evening...


J said...

Hi Nicci, thanks for writing back maybe you can help me how do I make you blog a link? I have tryed and it just keeps coming up as a post on my blog .. I hope all is well with you :-) look forward to reading you blog more this is all new to me Julie