Monday, May 5, 2008

The Psychology of Diabetes - When Do You Tell

A striking thought came to me at Darden Days this past weekend. Darden Days is the University of Virginia's admitted MBA student "sell weekend," so I was around about 300 of my future classmates for the first time. Several of the future students know me as the guy who is training for an Ironman (we have an on-line triathlon group) but few know the reasons behind why I signed up for Lake Placid. As I held my hands under a desk to test before our mock case and hurriedly gobbled up 1/2 a clif bar to treat a low I realized; I'm not always forthcoming about my disease.

It isn't that I hide my disease (obviously; I blog about it and let the JDRF write an article about me) but when I introduce myself to others I don't let Type 1 diabetes define me. Two future classmates are quickly becoming close friends of mine, I've hung out with each twice in NYC and spent the majority of the weekend with them at UVA. Neither knew that I had Type 1 and as fate would have it, Rob's older brother has juvenile diabetes (a future classmate who knows how to recognize lows is a god send). Jacki had originally thought that my pump was a cell phone and Rob hadn't a clue until he saw me test in our hotel room late Friday night.

Those that know me as a Triathlete asked if I "win my age groups," or "if this will be my first Ironman." To those that don't know the motivation behind my triathlon training I'm simply a guy chasing glory or athletic challenges. When I expose the reasons behind this crazy dream the attitude of the conversation changes to one of inspiration from pure athletic pursuits. It was a great feeling to have 3 people whom I let know my motivation for the Ironman pause and say something to the effect of "that's really cool." I guess more than anything this past weekend let me realize that diabetes will never define who I am but will push me to make sure it never does.


Shannon said...

I think it's important to keep the most supportive people in a tight circle around you. Especially with the stresses the MBA will be providing. So I'm glad the friends you've made are supportive.

I think diabetes is an important part of your life, obviously, but just because you don't introduce yourself as a diabetic doesn't mean you're hiding it. It will come naturally through conversation and people seeing you test and dose yourself as has happened with the friends you wrote about.

Allison said...

My motto is to live my life as if they already know. That means, if I test my blood sugar in front of them, I bolus and futz around with my pump in front of them. I don't introduce myself as "Hi, I'm Allison, I have diabetes." or "By the way, I have diabetes. Just thought you should know." Because, uh, that would be weird.

Usually, someone will ask me "What's that?" or they'll be educated enough to say, "Oh, you have diabetes too?" to which I say "Yep."

And that's it. I don't really feel the need to go into an educational seminar just because I'm testing my blood sugar. But I'll be damned if I hide it. I didn't hide it before I knew this person and I'm sure not going to now.

Brett said...

Let me guess, Mr. Wussy Anonymous who won't identify himself left a few more colorful posts you had to delete. How sad.

Anyway, thanks for sharing...I think you are doing just fine.

Rami said...

Hey found your blog through another Darden blog. Congrats on your first triathlon! Hopefully you now have an idea of what the swim will be like in Placid (although you can see the underwater rope), and maybe you have a better idea of your race pace. I was actually at Darden Days on Saturday with my girlfriend, so I'm sorry I missed you. Good luck with your training, and I'll see you in Charlottesville in a couple of months!


Regge said...

I think what you are doing is very motivating. I try not to let my diabetes define me but sometimes it just becomes a conversation ice breaker b/c everyone has a story about someone they know that has it as well.

Regge said...

"man bags" are necessary! You have to be able to find a way to keep up with all the stuff you gotta have! We have the zipper pouches in Nautical Blue and the Cabin Stripe. Which I have seen teh Blue one monogrammed in the taupe color...pretty cool! Have a great rest of the week!

Anonymous said...

Don't you think that by writing this blog and obsessing about telling classmates of your Diabetes that you are letting this condition define your life?