Monday, June 11, 2007

Getting Across the Road

I met my dad, who's up from South Carolina, for breakfast today.

On the way home, I drove past a turtle in the middle of the road. I couldn't help myself - I had to get out and help the damn thing get across.

I should mention - when I was a kid, my cousin Michelle and I found a turtle on her front grass that had been hit by a car - but was still alive. The poor thing's shell was cracked into about thirty pieces. We forced my Aunt Mary to bring us, with the turtle, to the vet. There, the vet proclaimed the situation hopeless and put the turtle to sleep.

I couldn't let it happen again - could I?

I got out of the car - and realized how large this turtle is. And clearly it's a snapper - with its wide muscular neck and head.

I go back to my car and put on a sweatshirt I've got in the back seat. I'm going to move the turtle.

Shaking like a leaf, I position myself in back of the thing and try to pick it up as someone had shown me when I was a girl - hands toward the back feet, firm. The thing jerks its head out, snapping its whole body tight. Trying to keep my cool, I move my feet as fast as they'll carry me toward the nearby woods and stream. Then, the mouth opens, and the hissing begins, and it turns its had back toward my (thankfully) sleeved arm. Had I not known what was coming I would have dropped my "cute" little friend and high-tailed it back to my car. Instead, I moved even faster toward the woods - and placed the turtle as far back as I dare carry it.

It looks back at me as I retreat - still poised to eat my face.

The whole incident made me think of the way I am about my diabetes sometimes.

This morning, at breakfast, friends of my father joined us. I took out my pump to bolus for the English Muffin I'd eaten - and dad's well-meaning friend asked if I'd tested. I had, just before they'd arrived. She asked what my test was. 149, I said.

"OOOhhhh..." She remarked... Looking sorry. Looking like she felt terribly for me. I should mention, this woman's husband has type 2 diabetes and doesn't make much effort to control it.

I could have looked a lot like my turtle friend at that moment - I sure felt like him. Back off - go away - I'll bite you - I can do this MYSELF.

I guess it's like that here and there - I just want this disease to be mine. I don't want the assistance of others - however well-meant. I don't want the judgement of others - however justified or correct it might be.

I don't want pity - I just want to get across the road on my own.


Penny said...


I hate when I test Riley's sugar and someone asks me what it is. As if it's any of their business anyway.

I've also told Michael to stop asking me what Riley's sugars are when I test him out in public. I've gotten looks from people before, because Riley didn't fit into the 80-120 range that they thougt he should be in. And, it infuriates me.

Scott K. Johnson said...

Great post - I've never thought of it that way, but I can totally see it.

I generally don't mind if curious people ask questions, but don't you DARE pass judgement on me unless you live in my shoes.

Well said Nicole.

Nicole P said...

Penny, my mom has actually told people to "carry on," when they've looked at me testing or asked about my levels. There are actually times I don't mind - a little curiousity is OK - but advice, pity, or disapproval from someone who doesn't get it rubs me the wrong way.

Really, Scott, it was the combination of pity and scorn that got me.

It's not that I don't want ANY help or support - I value the help and support I get from the OC, for instance, because it's typically free of judgement.

Even if it's meant well, he kind of wacky comment/looks people can give sometimes just piss me off.

Shannon said...

I know what you mean Nicole (at least I think I do). It's like you don't want to have to defend yourself or explain why it's whatever number it is. It's a pain in the ass to have to do that.

I actually like when people are curious about what we're doing. I feel like the more exposed people are, the more tolerant they become. But I haven't run into anyone who's been judgemental yet, so I haven't had a reason to be negative about it. :)

Kerri. said...

Oh Nicole. This post is brilliant.

I can't stand when people ask what my blood sugar is when I test it. So many times, I've announced a truly stellar number like 132 mg/dl and I get the sucked in breath sound and the corresponding, "Oh, that's pretty high." If only they'd seen my 289 that morning. Or the 300 and something I'll have next week. Or the 40 from this morning. People love to judge.

That's the best part of these blogs. There's no shame. It's just what we do.

Nicole P said...

You're absolutely right Kerri. On all counts - but mostly, that these blogs are a great place for us to talk about what we "just do." How challenging that doing can be sometimes.

I got that 149 result, I was like - hmm... Not great, but not BAD either. I guess I like to judge myself too. And I know it's well meant, it's just frustrating sometimes.

Nicole P said...

And Shannon - I don't know how I missed your comment - but I did. YES you understand what I mean. I HATE feeling like I HAVE to explain. I mean, I don't go around asking someone I know has another disease what their last relevant test result was... You know?

Bernard said...

You have to wonder why people ask questions like this.

I think I'm going to answer this way in future. "I'll tell you mine after you tell me yours." I'll bet most folks don't actually know what the 'right' value should be. And as time goes on, I'm beginning to believe that the limits established by the ADA are far more pertinent to folks with Type 2 than they are achievable by me!

Great post.

Anonymous said...

This is an amazing post! So powerful on so many levels. I loved how you tried to help the turtle try to get across the road safely, despite the risk of getting bit,and the sad memory of your childhood. And I think is it amazing how you tied it you your own diabetes, and people trying to get into your personal space, like you were a child. I think you should gone for the bite, just kidding. Great post!!! Lots of stuff to process and think about.

kimberly said...

I've recently started checking more conspicuously (sp?) in public -- part of my really dealing/accepting this disease. I'm trying not to feel defensive when people ask questions, rather to feel glad that they're curious or interested. The question that KILLS me is, "should you be eating that?"

That could start a food fight.

Nicole P said...

Thanks for stopping in Kimberly -"Can you eat that?" and "Wow, you couldn't be diabetic, you're not really fat." are two of my least favorite phrases. :)

LOL on the food fight.

Donna said...

Hi Nicole,
I tried to post this comment yesterday, but I must have done something wrong. Anyway, I understand your post completely. I hate when people ask about my blood sugar results. I want to be so independent that I even get mad at my husband (of 27 years) when he asks what the result is. The other night I was running high & I knew it before I even tested. He came in the room just as the meter beeped - 249. "So what is it?", he asked. I stormed off & wouldn't even talk to him about it. I know that is kind of childish. But I'm a big girl & can handle it myself. I know he's just trying to stay involved & I should appreciate it. But sometimes, people who don't have diabetes don't understand how we feel. I'm glad I'm not alone. Thanks for posting this.

Nicole P said...

Hi Donna -

It's so easy to feel defensive - even though you know a person't intentions really are good.

There's a requisite amount of self-imposed shame, that I think most of us associate with numbers that aren't perfect - and shame can make a person defensive - upset - angry - sad... And man, is it impossible to explain the way that the combination of out of range sugars and the feeling associated with them can effect us.

Try your best not to snap - but as you can see from this post - I know what a challenge that is.


Chrissie in Belgium said...

Nicole, I LOVED this entry! What flashed through my brain was "Chrissie, you stupid idiot, look what you have been missing by not reading !!! But isn't there one teeny little difference between us and the trutles out there - we HAVE to take care of ourselves. That turtle had you to help him, but I will be dammed if we can depend on someone helping us along. Of course that was some lucky turtle, most aren't so lucky.

Nicole P said...

Chrissie - I'm so glad you're reading - and commenting. :)

You are absolutely right - sometimes it feels as if there's no one to help us along. And sometimes, someone makes what they think is a concerted, well-meant effort and we balk. Catch 22, I suppose.

Of course, I'm glad if the person's effort keeps me from getting smooshed in the middle of the road - as do some turtles - but most days I get all headstrong and think "This is MINE. Stop touching me."