Last week I took my medical librarian know-how to the classroom to teach a group of doctors how to find and use medical images for their research and teaching methods. As I was leaning over helping one of them learn how to successfully manipulate an image, I overheard a couple of doctors behind me chatting about me, or more precisely, “that thing on his side.”
I wasn’t mic’d for sound (this time), as the room was plenty small enough and I was able to project my voice plenty loud enough to not need to be wired into the room’s audio. When I overheard them, I didn’t jump right around and whip out my broken pancreas club membership card and secret handshake. Instead, I chose to let them go for a bit. After all, they are doctors and far smarter than I am. Surely they can figure out what that contraption is on my side, right?
They spent only a few moments debating about whether or not it was a wireless microphone, and moved on to the temporary conclusion that it must be the clicker for my PowerPoint presentation. Granted, I was using a PowerPoint clicker, but that was in my hand. I like to imagine I’m a weatherman when I get to use the PowerPoint clicker. Nevertheless, moving on…
Maybe the light hit me just right, or maybe I turned at just the right angle, but finally I heard one of them say, “Oh, that’s an insulin pump. He must have diabetes.” Followed by a pause for consideration. Then one of them said, “That’s impressive.”
Pride. That’s what I felt. Not for me so much, but for those of us who quietly live everyday with diabetes and don’t let it stop us from making a difference in the lives of others. We don’t let it stop us from helping others. We don’t let diabetes stop us from doing anything.
I never had a chance to acknowledge their overheard conversation, but I like to imagine that they went back to their hospital or their practice the next day and told their colleagues about how good of a class they took, and how this charming and incredibly attractive guy kept them engaged, learning, and laughing for a solid two hours. I hope that they got a glimpse of someone with diabetes who was thriving, living, and making a difference in the lives and abilities of others. At that point, I wasn’t a patient, or someone that needed their medical advice, or their prescriptions, or their years of medical education and experience.
I hope that they appreciated that diabetes was there in the room with us, but that it wasn’t in the spotlight. Because I certainly did.