Monday, July 21, 2014

D-Blog Check Day: Connect / #ShowMeYourPump

Hi all! Today (well, July 22nd) is #dblogcheck day, so I figured I should fight the summer laziness and check in (that is, post). It actually hasn't been a lazy summer; I'm teaching five class sessions a week to 130 students, I saw 36 plays in 12 days, and I've been socializing like mad, along with prepping for one of the biggest events of my life, but D-Block Check Day is worth stopping for. D-Blog Check Day is a day where we learn how many people we actually reach with our words. Many of us read blogs and, even if moved, never comment. Perhaps it feels intrusive, or time-consuming, or removes a layer of anonymity. The purpose of blogs, however, isn't only to work things out for ourselves on the page (though that is a large part of it - blog as therapy); it's to connect with others, to hear an "it's going to be okay," or a "me too." This day encourages us to step forward and be counted.

I used to have a very involved, nearly daily blog, through undergrad and most of grad school. It was over at LiveJournal, if anyone remembers that. Now, Facebook and Twitter have taken over the world of connection (so instant! So many "likes"!), and the LJ world has dwindled to the point where it's hard to convince myself to put in the effort to chronicle my life. I'm not disparaging Facebook, and I kind of wish there was a "like" function on this blog; after all, what's an easier way to "check in"? Most of us don't remember to comment day-to-day, which is why we have this event. However, LiveJournal seemed more permanent, less ephemeral in its own way, which is a strange thing to say about two websites that both essentially exist in the ether.

When I go back to my college years, I see them in full. Highlights, of course, but much less carefully curated. I see events and whole conversations reproduced. I cringe at my emotional meltdowns, but I laugh and admire the passion and creativity that I and my friends brought to each others' worlds. My blog, my life, my feelings were open to the world, for better or for worse. (Now, the journal is locked to "friends-only," so it's a bit of a time capsule.)

Why am I telling you this? I'm talking about connections and the importance of reaching out. Almost a year into my LJ blog, more than ten years ago, someone who I'd never met reached out to me. He was moved by what I'd written. A friend of a friend, he had never been introduced to me, but we would both be on campus in the coming fall. He felt like he knew me, a bit, after reading my writing. He wanted to get to know me more. He commented more. We started talking. We took a chance, and met after moving in to our sophomore dorms.

And we're getting married in six weeks.

So connect. Connect. Reach out. You never know what will happen.

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The new Miss Idaho, Sierra Sandison, has certainly gotten people around the world to connect lately. She decided to be bold and wear her pump visibly clipped to her swimsuit during the pageant, while worrying what people would think. She won, is what they thought. She has started a hashtag, #showmeyourpump, to encourage others to be "out and proud" when it comes to wearing a medical device. This stirred up all sorts of thoughts for me. The first thought is that I have come a long way from when I refused to even consider wearing a pump. I have such better control with a pump that part of me berates myself for not getting one earlier, but I wasn't ready until...I was. Forcing myself to be "tied down" to a pump when I would have resented it might have been an even bigger disaster than waiting to get it in the first place. It was the people who connected with me (that word again), online and in person, who even convinced me to give it a try.

Now I'm out, as far as pump-wearing is concerned. I blog. I'm proud, even though the pump still makes me question my fragility, my femininity, and my desirability. Sometimes it is still claustrophobic, even when you're out in the open. The questions arise: what does this attachment say about me? What do people see when they see it; do they think I'm taking charge, or that I'm less of a person? (Most probably think it's a pager and I'm a time traveller from 1995.) I'm not shy about my pump, but often I don't deliberately display it. Therefore, I find myself asking: am I proud enough? Do I show enough?

A friend of mine and I had a conversation on FB (the LJ replacement) about what showing or not showing your pump means. I'm glad we did, because it clarified a few things for me. Here's how my side of the conversation went:

I wear a lot of dresses, so it's actually hard to show my pump without tearing it through the dress or clipping it to the neckline and dragging the front of the dress off. I usually put it inside the waistband of my pants, too. Otherwise, though, I'm not shy about it (though I realize that seems like a big "otherwise"). When I'm wearing a dress (see: every day for the past month), what that means is that I am "hiding" my pump to avoid breaking the line of the dress. I still want to be pretty. Does the pump mean I feel I'm not pretty, though, and is that why I hide it, or is it just a fashion consideration? As much as, for example, diabetes will be evident and a part of my wedding, I'm not going to clip my pump to the top of my strapless dress. Does that mean I'm letting down the side, so to speak? Am I playing off shame as a fashion crime? (Is it a crime?) Ultimately, there will always be that frustration with diabetes, that frustration with bodily failure, that will in some way shape how I feel when I look at my pump. Of course, if I looked like Miss Idaho, I might feel differently.

Ultimately, I don't think that we should feel like we "have" to show our pumps at all times, or that we are letting down the cause if we don't, because that's as much of a trap, a pressure, as the pressure to hide. It's like running a marathon: you shouldn't let diabetes stop you if you really want to do it, but you shouldn't feel like you have to do it just to prove you can. However, I unabashedly love the #showmeyourpump campaign, because it provides a safe and open space; it might sound like a command, but it's really just an invitation, and one we can respond to in our own time.

So, when I wear a dress, it's both a practicality and aesthetic choice for me, and for the most part, shame isn't a factor (shame is when it starts buzzing No Delivery under my dress two minutes into an hour-long Fringe play). A pump lets me wear a dress without it being obtrusive, even something relatively tight and clingy, which is one of the awesome things about the pump - it doesn't have to be front and centre all the time. So, when it's easier for what I want to wear, I hide it. If it's convenient for me, I show it. Not letting diabetes completely control you, to me, means that I get to choose when I want to make a statement and when I don't. No shame, and no pressure from others either way. I do, however, think it's a good idea to occasionally have that reflection and ask those questions, just in case there's something deeper under the reason of convenience.

Having said all that, it's about time I showed you my pump.


Is that an insulin pump in your hand, or am I just happy to see you?

Yes, yes I am.

30 comments:

  1. I'm going to guess that it IS your insulin pump, but that you might also be happy to see me. :)

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    1. You're right, it's definitely both! :)

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  2. I wrote on this topic today as well :)

    Check!

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    1. I really enjoyed your take on it! :)

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  3. Love it! I wear dresses most of the summer and have my pump hooked onto my undies. I also carry around an alligator clip to make my undies tighter by the end of the day. There's a whole robot crazy world under my dresses. Gotta do what you gotta do!

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    1. The alligator clip...that's an interesting idea. Usually I wear a layer of shapewear underneath to hold the pump up in the underwear, but that's worth looking into!

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  4. So glad I've been able to connect with you through your blog!!

    #dblogcheck

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    1. Karen, you're so awesome in all you do for the community! Thanks so much for reading.

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  5. Thanks for checking in! What a sweet story about your fiancé! Also, I've been wearing a lot of dresses recently so I haven't shown my pump either and not because I'm ashamed or embarrassed, simply because it's easier to clip it to my underwear under my dress than anywhere else, but I do love the campaign!

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    1. Thanks! I can't believe that we've had almost ten years together that started with a comment on a blog. I guess it's worth noting that Miss Idaho showed her pump on a bikini, not with her dress.

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  6. Great post and best wishes for your upcoming wedding! Check!

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    1. Thanks! I can't believe how soon it is.

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  7. Thank you for writing and wow about your groom-to-be. I hope the wedding is beautiful and that you post pictures. I am still eager to get the Cards Against Diabetes up and printing. :-) You're awesome <3

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    1. I will definitely post some pictures; I'm just hoping they don't come along with a story about diabetes being a jerk. I'd love to get CAD printed someday. Thanks so much for reading, and right back at you with the awesomeness!

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  8. Check!

    And YAY for getting married!

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    1. Thanks for checking in! Marriage sounds like it's going to be awesome!

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  9. We all have to feel OK about making whatever choices are right for the day, the moment, ourselves. Thanks!

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    1. Thanks for reading! It's so true, especially when it comes to diabetes, which is all about the moment and how no two moments are ever the same.

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  10. Wow - what a cool story about connecting online and all the magic that's come from that!! And from there, I really like your points about needing/wanting to show off your pump and going with whatever works best so that D isn't controlling or dictating the situation. Totally agreed. Just because we can, doesn't mean we have to. And it's about US, not the diabetes and all that goes with that. Great post, thanks so much for sharing it.

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    1. Thanks for reading and commenting! The connections I've made online have proven to be some of the most valuable in my life. It's awesome to be able to make a choice and to feel supported in it.

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  11. LiveJournal...those were the days. I agree that being out with your pump doesn't have to be an automatic. You do you. #check

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    1. I kind of miss those LJ days...yeah, one thing about diabetes is that nothing is automatic - not even our statement choices!

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  12. Ilana, I'm so sorry I didn't get to this before now. My feeling: Gotta do what works for you. And don't worry... you'll get a chance to show your pump off at some point. Maybe when you least expect it. For me, that's usually at the gym-- can't hide much there.

    Anyway, just want to say I love everything you write. And I hope the next six weeks and beyond are the best! Becuase you deserve it.

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    1. Thanks so much, Stephen! Check in any time! :)

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