Thriving while progressive chronic illness does its thing.

Sick and Social Working

This is a post I wrote back in May but never got around to publishing it.


I have a fresh start at being me. I’ve officially broken up with my partner, I’ve moved into a new apartment, I’ve started my new job, and I’ve joined new communities of queer dancers and diabetes providers and patients. It’s a blank slate to try to project my true, genuine self onto, without the hindrances of expectations and projections of the familiar. I watch the slate filling up with color with fascination. I think, Oh yes, that is me, I’d forgotten because I’d been to self-conscious, or worried so-and-so would disapprove. Sometimes I even stumble into wondering what my true self would do in a certain situation and pause until I can dig deeply enough to find out. I find that I love being around people, whether making conversation with nearby strangers or turning strangers into friends over a vodka tonic and a few dances.  I like gorgeous views, adventure and the unknown, and oh boy do I like girls. It’s exhilarating and exhausting.
Taints are to be expected. I still live in the same body and some parts my past will never leave, whether I like them or not. It would be disconcerting to be entirely new, as there are parts of my past I adore. But I still feel shaken with that reality when I find myself living out fears and anxieties – even those documented in my last post. I have had to run to the bathroom to vomit. Fortunately, the bathroom is close to my office. The gestalt in the moment is almost too much to bear. My office is right next to the registration desk where children from infants to toddlers to tweens to teens follow their parents to sign in for their appointment, hand over their glucometers and pumps for the nurses to download, and wait for their moment of Diabetes Judgement. It’s been almost a month by now, but I still have urges to run out and hug each of them and tell them that they’ll be okay, that none of this is their fault, and that they deserve a medal for simply trying and showing up – that to live with this disease requires courage

I’m sitting at my desk having just eaten lunch and wondering which bathroom will be the most subtle for the time of day. With more patients in the clinic I’d use the employee one, but when the clinic’s slower the staff toilets are more popular. Do I dare use the accessible bathroom – the perfect combination of a single stall locking door and room to kneel in front of the toilet a I vomit into the bowl? Last time I did that there was an old woman with a walker waiting outside when I finished and I was SO ashamed. But this is perhaps on top of another worry – can I be here and be sick? How can I make sense of these two identities that this place has set up to be structurally, logistically and sociologically distinct? And that distinction is in my heart, though my head knows it’s nonsense. I have trouble climbing out and merging the two.

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