To the bouncer that shocked me to tears on Friday,
I know when I approached your bar you thought nothing of asking for a token search of my bag. I thought nothing of allowing it. That upon pulling out a small carton of apple juice, you figured it would be no big deal to throw it away. Standard procedure, sure. You probably didn't expect my slightly long-winded reply that I was a type 1 diabetic and it was really important that I kept it should my sugars suddenly drop.
I'm sure you've had tons of people try it. But, like many bouncers I've encountered who have also heard it all before, you could have asked me to prove I was indeed a type 1. I'm more than fine with that; you have a job to do.
I could have easily shown you the medical ID that I carry around. I could have shown you my back up injection, which I carry should my insulin pump fail. Or the meter I use to track my blood sugars and to deliver insulin into my body around the clock, or the pricker I use to draw blood from my fingers every few hours. I could have shown you the pump that's permanently attached to my body, beeping at inopportune moments and consistently being knocked by door handles and busy commuters.
What I wasn't prepared for was your aggressive, dismissive response. The one that told me to 'go to the shop and get your jelly beans or whatever it is you guys eat', or else to not bother coming in. You saw the shock flash across my face, and you heard me tell you I wasn't trying to be difficult but that I had the (sealed) solution in my hand. Your response? 'I don't care, go to the shop and figure it out.'
This may or may not be a point, but for some reason it really got me - you are a woman. I searched and searched your face for that powerful understanding that we have - humility. There was none. Just aggression, defiance, belligerence. And when you insisted on dismissing my reasoning as irritating at best - after I'd told you that that carton could keep me from passing out - that, at that moment, became entirely rude. Thankfully it was literally taken out of your hands when your boss took the carton from you and put it behind the screen, only to give it back to me in the next second, with a nod and an 'It's ok, I get it'.
I'm upset that you got to me; but you did. I can't say I remember encountering anyone who has ever made me feel like my condition was an inconvenience to their life. And who has such a right? Yet you somehow managed it, and very quickly too. In a situation like that one, you make decisions. You use instinct, and you use sense; like your colleague who gave me the juice back without me even asking. I don't get upset or indignant when someone misunderstands my condition; mostly because after 19 years of living with it, I still don't get it either. But you shocked me to the point that I found myself crying tears of frustration once inside, over a rather humiliating situation that was entirely in your power to avoid. But maybe you'd had a bad day.
And aren't I lucky that I can treat a mishap of my condition with sweets? You're right, actually. I'm lucky that my condition doesn't stop me from doing stuff like go out on a Friday night. I feel lucky that my condition is inconceivable to you as anything to be taken even remotely seriously. It's just some stupid jelly beans, right? So why not just go over to the nearest shop and get some?
Firstly, juice is much easier to swallow in those scary and urgent situations when you can't process your thoughts properly, and your breath is shallow. Chewing is not preferable or practical because it takes longer, and then your stomach has to break down the solids. Beyond that, eating with such urgency that you can't even taste isn't a pleasant experience. I also happen to know that the exact size of that carton, after many years of unfortunate practice, will raise my sugars just the right amount so that I don't swing too much in the other direction, dehydrate myself and risk damage to my kidneys.
I sound facetious now don't I? I agree, which is why I very rarely view my condition in this way. I resent even feeling the need to write this. I don't speak 'woe is me' very well. But who are you to make me, or anyone else in my position, stand out in the cold justifying something I have to live with and manage and navigate every minute of every day? Justify carrying something potentially life-saving just because it doesn't come with a prescription label, in sterile packaging?
It was at about 5am that same night when I woke up with a dangerously low blood sugar, desperately lacking the glucose in my brain that enables YOU to think properly without worry, and breathe properly without concern. I wasn't able to move my body from the bed any further than to pull an innocuous, battered carton of juice from a handbag at the side of the bed. I managed to guzzle it in the pitch black to stop me going into a coma, sweating and shaking uncontrollably while I tried not to wake anyone else. The very same carton that you tried to take from me.
Be kind, sometimes.
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