Two years ago, the same week that I received my diabetes diagnosis, I attended a night of solo performance. I was going to see a friend of mine, but as is often the case, she was performing in a showcase with a few other people I didn’t know. One of them was a woman named Lisa-Marie. I had no idea what her show was about, but as the lights came up and she started acting the part of her mother, “Lisa! Lisa! We have to check your numbers!” I knew that it was about diabetes. And it was. The friends I had come with started tossing concerned glances my way. They knew I had been fairly traumatized by this news from my doctor.
Turns out that Lisa-Marie has Type 1 Diabetes, what used to be called “juvenile diabetes” because she was diagnosed as a child. And in one scene, she was ranting about how frustrating it is to be misunderstood for that “OTHER” kind of diabetes, the kind that fat people who eat too many cheeseburgers get.
I remember slumping down in my seat, my face burning with embarrassment. I think I had a bit of an out-of-body experience for a few minutes. Yeah. That’s the kind of diabetes that *I* had. The kind that you bring on yourself. The kind where it’s all your fault (you disgusting pig). I died a million deaths during that 15 minute show, and when it was over I fled the theater like I’d been set on fire.
Well. Funny how life turns out. Last week I did a performance of my own show, and guess who else was in my lineup? Yes, none other than the same Lisa-Marie, who did an amazing piece about breast cancer (entitled “Nice Rack.” It was fabulous). And I knew that I had to talk to her about her show, and my show, and my life, and how it all linked together.
And I was talking to her, I realized (huge flash) that even though seeing her show had been absolutely excruciating back then, it also solidified in me a feeling of “HELL NO. Nobody is ever, ever, ever going to talk about me and MY diabetes that way.” And I realize now that it was a very very real and clear catalyst for my getting healthy. She was one of the things that pushed me into my journey in a very real way. And while her show had upset and embarrasssed me, it also was one of the greatest gifts I could’ve gotten.
Right in the midst of my own performance on Wednesday night (dress rehearsal for my performance at Fitbloggin next week!!), I added a line just for her. 🙂 “Oh no. I brought this on myself. I can’t tell anybody. I’m so embarrassed. I know what they say about people who get Type 2 diabetes – that happpens to people who too many cheeseburgers…. but… I don’t eat THAT many cheeseburgers. Do I?” It’s sort of a poignant/funny line, and now I know it’s going to stay in there.
It’s kind of amazing to me how many people come up to me after a performance and say, “I have prediabetes. But I haven’t done anything about it. But now…” Or the same thing about a family member or friend. And I hope that maybe my show can be the same kind of catalyst for them.
I didn’t make myself have diabetes, not 100% anyway. Genetics does that. But once I have it I can choose to ignore it or manage it and be as healthy as I can anyway. That’s what I choose.
Now I’m dreaming up ways that Lisa-Marie and I can do our shows together, the voices of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes coming together. How cool would THAT be.
Has a performance/book/movie/painting or other piece of art ever influenced how you lived YOUR life?