I Can Because Someone Believed That I Could.

I was running late one day during junior year of high school and our Spanish teacher, Ms. K., questioned me in front of the class.

“Why were you late again, Ally?”

“Umm… we got out of Math late today.”

“Fair enough.  And who is your Math teacher?”

“Mrs. H.”

“Okay, I’ll chat with Mrs. H. later on today.”

Umm, what?!!  Well, there goes my great excuse!  Mrs. H. knows that we were not late today! 

As my classmates filed out into the hall at the conclusion of class, Ms. K. held me back, deciding to give me one more opportunity to come clean.

“Ally, why were you late?  For real.”

“I didn’t want to say it in front of the class, but I was having issues with my blood sugar,” I replied, staring at the floor.

“I’m so sorry.  I wasn’t thinking of that earlier.  Anytime you have to leave the classroom and do whatever you need to do- please just take care of yourself, okay?” Ms. K. responded, suddenly concerned.

“Okay.  I’m sorry again.”

When I tell that story to my coworkers, I usually tell it as a joke.  In my head I know full well that it is a rationalization: Hardy har har, see, diabetes comes in handy sometimes!

The truth of the matter is, being so far removed from that incident in high school, I’m not entirely sure what actually transpired when I look back now. My best guess is that diabetes became a convenient excuse when I saw that I was going to be disciplined; there was not a major diabetes emergency going on that made me late for class. In that case, I owe Ms. K. a coffee/beer with my apology the next time I see her.

At the same time, did diabetes sometimes make me late because I had to make an extra stop at my locker to check my blood sugar, or go to the bathroom when my blood sugar was too high, or scarf down a granola bar when I was low? Absolutely. The mature thing would have been to discuss this with my teachers beforehand so that they knew that I was trying my best. Alas, I was a dorky high school kid just trying to fit in.

You are in the driver’s seat of your life; diabetes is just the pesky younger sibling trying to hang out with the cool kids. Do not let diabetes be the excuse that gets you out of detention. If you mess up, take responsibility. But also recognize that diabetes does like to throw some wrenches into the mix of life, and you should be upfront with those who may need to understand. Tell your teacher or your boss if you are not feeling 110% one day and need to take a breather outside. I wish that I had fostered that discussion in hindsight.

In grad school I have been blessed with professors who have taken a keen interest in my academic development. I am open with them about diabetes because I am more comfortable in my own skin now compared to high school. On the particularly rough days with my insulin pump problems in the fall, my instructors showed me selfless compassion. They respected that no matter how sick I was, I was going to get my work done on time and do it well. (Something about stubborn Italian pride, right?) Yet on many occasions, they held me back after class- not to scold me for being late, but to make sure that I was okay. Every ounce of hard work that I put into my degree is a reflection of the confidence that my instructors hold in their students’ abilities.

I can.  You can.  We all can.

I can because academic instructors believed that I could- diabetes and all.  In the process, I started to believe, too.

gpa

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41 thoughts on “I Can Because Someone Believed That I Could.

  1. Thanks for sharing! A very relateable post. I’ve definitely had times where I’ve felt uncomfortable bringing up that I have diabetes. I guess I just don’t want people to pity me or feel sorry for me. But I do love being able to use it for the occasional excuse!

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  2. Diabetes was particularly tough in high school, wasn’t it? I too was embarrassed and just wanted to fit it. And I know Ms. K would completely understand your little fib.

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    1. Thanks, Karen. And thank you for organizing DBlog Week. This is my first go at it, and I’ve already stumbled upon so many great blogs out there that I was unaware of beforehand. And it’s only day 1! Thanks for all of your hard work in the #doc!

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  3. What an incredible post! I remember being in that same boat (as a teen guy, mind you), and not wanting to use D as an excuse. I’m sure my teachers and professors would be understanding, but it was more about me not wanting to A.) Single myself out as different; or B.) Admit that D got in the way. And I do recall using it as an excuse, even when there wasn’t a need. I am so glad that we have the kinds of support that we do these days, so there are so many stories of people being supported and doing whatever they want — largely because someone believe they could. Great message, and thank you so much for sharing this!

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  4. Great Ally! It does the most inconvient things at the most inconvient times doesn’t it. I always feel like I am inconviencing people when it doesn’t go right. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. I feel that way quite often, too. But I have found that usually it is a much bigger deal inside my head than any slight inconvenience it may bring to my friends. The real inconvenience is these faulty islet cells! 😉

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  5. I’ve always been glad that I didn’t have to deal with T1 when I was a teenager (or in college or grad school). I was diagnosed a few months after grad school and then the fun began… As always, a wonderful post, Ally.

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    1. Thanks, Erin! I tried to comment on your DBlog Week post earlier, but for the life of me my computer did not want to cooperate! Thank you for your post today. It is an inspiration to see that anything is possible with diabetes, and the picture in your post speaks volumes for just how awesome that can be! I look forward to reading more of your blog!

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  6. Great post! I can totally relate-wanting to fit in in high school, being comfortable in my skin in grad school, getting the work done no matter how you are feeling. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Thank you, Kelley! You hit the nail on the head there with “getting the work done no matter how you are feeling.” I find that school is a nice way to channel my energy into something good on the particularly tough diabetes days. Thank you for setting a great example that it all can be done with diabetes!

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  7. This is magnificent! How nice to feel supported by the faculty at your graduate program. Your post gives me hope for my own. Also, when I think back about memories as a teen, I often wonder what actually happened. I know my memory isn’t very reliable. Even if you did “play the d-card,” you work hard enough at diabetes to deserve to use it now and again. Thank you for writing this. I LOVE your blog, Ally.

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    1. Hi Heather, I am near-certain that your graduate program will cherish the wonderful spirit that you embody for the #doc (and, I am guessing, for everything else that you are passionate about!). We are all proud of the hard work you have been putting in. Thank you for your compliments- they mean a lot to me!

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  8. I just sort of stumbled on your blog through twitter. ..but this post caught my eye. I was diagnosed at 5 so all through school dealt with stuff like this. Luckily most of my teachers were understanding. And I too have used T1 to get out of gym.

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    1. Thanks for reading, Andrew! School and T1D are always… interesting. Sometimes I wonder how it all worked out, but thankfully it does somehow!

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  9. You’re awesome Ally! I can’t imagine juggling the course work with all the diabetes junk you’ve gone through since I met you. It gives me hope that I’ll be able to do that. Keep it up!

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