Blog every day – probably not, but I’ll make a stab at it.
It will probably get boring (it might already be boring). But I did think about it on the drive home (all of 10 minutes) from work this afternoon. I thought about how people view us, us people with diabetes. Then I thought about how I view others, with different issues/diseases/lives.
In my junior year of college I changed my major from Elementary Education to Special Education. After taking some of the introductory SpEd classes, I decided I wanted/needed to know more about my future students. And so, that summer I worked for 10 weeks at Camp Easter Seal near Roanoke, VA. We had a weekend of training and getting to know each other. It was a tremendous experience. The art director had no arms, one short leg and another even shorter leg. (She taught me how to do “wheelies” in a wheel chair! ((She couldn’t do them due to having no arms.)) ) Her assistant was a blind college student from Michigan. (One day, she was sewing a split in her shorts and asked me to check it before she put them away. She’d sewed them right side out instead of inside out. By then we were friends and so I laughed and explained what she’d done. I asked her if she’d like me to fix it and she said no, but that she wasn’t so great at ripping out the stitches. I ripped out the stitches and she insisted on re-sewing the seam herself.) The assistant in the office was a paraplegic. The two laundry guys had cerebral palsy, traveled in wheel chairs and were difficult (for me) to understand. They both had Masters in Library Science. The rest of us were college and high school students working as cabin and speech counselors.
I learned a lot that summer.
I learned not to pre-judge people based on their looks, abilities and/or even their speech.
I learned I could be great friends with people who were very different from me.
I learned I could learn from those who appear disabled.
I learned to ask what I could do to help and not to help if it wasn’t needed.
I learned not to assume – anything.
(Pat on the back here… I was a photo nut even then and toward the end of camp I sent negatives ((remember those)) out and had copies made for various counselors and camp staff. When I gave the blind art assistant her set of copies, she was awed. I’d written names/activities on the backs of the photos so she could share them with her other (sighted) friends at college. She said it was the first time anyone had given her photos – and she looked forward to showing everyone at school her summer at camp photos.)
So now, when people make assumptions about my diabetes, I try to react in the same way. I ask for help if I need it. I answer other’s questions when asked. I try to politely explain why I can have a cookie, when challenged… And I try to remember that I’m not the only one traveling through life with something that makes me “different.”