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If you wish… | Diabetic

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The day after I was diagnosed with diabetes, I found myself sitting in the stairwell of the Diabetes Victoria office on Collins Street in Melbourne, tears streaming down my face. I ran from the NDSS shop on the third floor, suddenly overwhelmed by the curious boxes of diabetic supplies that were about to be sent home. I lean against the wall, the emotions of the past 24 hours catching up to me. Someone came down the stairs and stopped. She squatted down and said quietly. ‘Hello. OK? ‘

It wasn’t. Of course it wasn’t. “Can I sit here for a moment?” When she asked me that, I nodded, tears streaming down my face for some reason.

After all, she was a diabetes educator working for Diabetes Victoria. And she also had type 1 diabetes. She spoke, and I listened. And listen and listen. It was the first time I heard other diabetics talk about their experiences. She told me that she also felt overwhelmed at times. And she said that she feels like it’s a big deal right now because it’s all new to her, which is completely understandable. She assured me it wouldn’t feel so big. She told me about some of her life with diabetes. She didn’t talk like cherries in a bowl and puppies, but it did take away some of the fear of the diagnosis that stuck in her heart. Her story didn’t make sense to me at the time, but as I started hearing more and more stories about my own diabetes, I gradually began to understand her experience.

I will continue to search for stories today. I share parts of myself, things that I feel comfortable sharing. And sometimes it’s not that comfortable.

I am forever grateful to the diabetes educator I met on April 16, 1998. I told her again and again that her kind reassurance was the only brightness in those dark days. I am grateful to all others who have generously shared their lived experiences. I never take for granted reliving the trauma of a particularly difficult time.

And tell your story. Only if you wish.

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