Wearing my heart – I mean, pod – on my sleeve

But you don’t look diabetic…. 

I’ve had this conversation countless times before…. What does someone with diabetes look like?????? We look like you, and you, and you, and them, and everybody else. 

But there are some telltale signs, especially if you wear any form of diabetic technology.

The fact is, don’t we just love spotting others with similar tech? I was at a spinning class a couple of months ago, and was thrilled to see a woman on the bike in front of me, scanning her Libre mid-class, a packet of glucose tablets at the ready. 

Once, at a local Starbucks, I wanted to go up and introduce myself to the fellow tapping away on his pump as he prepared to enjoy his latte and muffin. 

I held back — or rather my husband held me back — but I did offer a nod and smile as he walked past me on his way to the exit; me, excited to have seen another diabetic in action and him wondering why that woman was gawking at him so intently. 

When I was on the Animas pump, with its long tubing, I used to tuck it in my jeans’ pocket. Some of my jeans still have that outline, much the way a wallet would imprint itself on the material. All of my pants or dresses with pockets had small holes cut into the pockets, so that I could snake the tubing under my clothes and have easy access to the pump.  Sometimes, stuff falls out of the pants with those cut pockets. 

Back then, I’d tuck my pump into my bra. Hugging, for me, was awkward, as I wondered what people thought of as they felt a huge solid block in my chest area. “Wow, Karen really works out,” is what I thought went through their minds, But it was probably more a quick “hmmm” or  in fact, they didn’t register the wad of hard plastic as anything in particular. 

I teach at a local college, and often wear my omnipod on my upper arm. In my two years of having the pod, only once did a student ask me about it. It was poking out from under my short sleeved shirt and as I walked by her desk, I heard a loud “What’s that????” 

I stopped and explained. No big deal. 

When I wear tighter fitting pants, I know there’s a chunk on my thigh that’s either my pod or my dexcom. I want to ask, “Does that thing sticking out of my body make my leg look diabetic?” 

A couple of weeks ago, I went to our local community centre gym, with my omnipod popped proudly on the back of my leg, a pretty sticker holding it firmly in place. I ventured out into the work out area — and there was no one there 

I was disappointed. I wanted to show off my pod! I wanted someone to ask me “What’s that?????” 

I spent my time on the treadmill and headed home, sad that I’d missed an opportunity to tell someone about the wonders of diabetic technology as their eyes glazed over. 

The fact is, very rarely does anyone ask. I’ve heard people in the diabetic community answer that it’s their “tracker”, their “battery” or some other fun answer, but I’m so rarely asked, I don’t have any smart retorts. 

We’re so used to technology these days that I don’t think a lot of people register anything when they see my dexcom or pod. 

Somedays, I think it’s only me that feels different.

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