What Do You Know

The phrase has come up twice now: what you don't know. In March of 2010, in an effort to bridge the gap between the homeless and the housed, I asked the women of The Open Door what they'd say to those outside of the shelter if given the chance. What don't they know?

I never thought I'd be in this position.

People say, You don't look like you're homeless. What's homeless supposed to look like? Dirty?

Everybody gives money to Haiti; people get help if they're homeless because of an earthquake or tornado. But it doesn't matter how you became homeless. You're homeless, and you need help.

A guy I know hired me to clean his dad's house. He said, "Don't tell my dad you're homeless or he won't like you." Me and the dad got along great! We had a wonderful time. If I had told him... but it would still be me! I would be the same person as the one he liked.

You're not supposed to judge anybody. Some have more, others have less. You are definitely blessed if you have a home.

Some two and a half years later, I found myself using the same phrase with former prisoners. What you don't know was the only way I could help these men explain how their new lives of freedom were hindered by guilt, blame, deadend job hunts and housing restrictions.

You don't know the sense of complete separation and loneliness that is felt while inside, and at times is carried on once released.

I'm afraid.

I need others to know and believe I am sorry.

I am new. Come see.

This phrase could come in handy in this new year. Each of us has a back story, and what I don't know does indeed hurt me, or you, if my ignorance prevents us from connecting in a genuine way. My assumptions could carry a cost.

What you don't know about having a child with type 1 diabetes is that I count out goldfish crackers to a broken fin. I wonder, every morning, if Theo will wake up conscious. I worry I'll badly miscalculate a dose, or that Greg will, and that I'll be angry with him for something I could have just as easily done. I fear that my absent-minded boy won't grow out of his dreaminess, and will have trouble managing his disease on his own when he's older. What you don't know is that Greg and I have few dates because we haven't yet trained a sitter to give shots. And that diabetes is all day, every day, and it gets easier, but it's hard, very hard.

Your turn. Tell me: I want to know.


  1. I have Type 2 diabetes, and I still kick myself for not seeing it coming. My late dad had it, both of my late grandmothers had it. Not long ago, I found out that a few of my aunts and uncles had it, and some of my 2nd cousins, too. It's such a strong family trait. . .I wonder if my older and younger siblings were still living would they have ended up with it too.

  2. But you're very active--you can't help but be in boxing! And that's one of the best things you can do. Otherwise, there are days when carb counting is a crap shoot. My husband and I have 3 college degrees between us, and sometimes we're just stumped. Keep on keepin' on and spread the word so the next generations doesn't get type 2. (Actually, the media does a great job of this, which is why no one understands what my son goes through with type 1. They're fairly different diseases, though of course much looks similar.)

  3. another powerful post from you, thank you for sharing.

    i don't think i could tell you anything you don't already know about parenting a kid with T1. but here's something:

    she's 12. she doesn't like to cuddle, snuggle, and just tolerates the nighttime hug/forehead kiss. but tonight she was 143 at bedtime with 2.2 IOB and 45 mins later she came down feeling shaky and tested at 63. i gave her some OJ and a cheese stick wrapped in toast (she had a 'low craving' for a fried cheese stick but came up with this substitution when i said no to her request) and after 5 minutes i said i would come back in 10 to recheck her. she snuggled in to me and said i could stay if i wanted to.

    so for a half hour, i held my 12 year old daughter as she slept, and for once i didn't curse her low BG, because it caused her to want some snuggle time, which i didn't realize how much i missed until tonight.

    thanks for offering this forum for me to share that. she reads my blog and would not appreciate me posting it there, i'm sure. :)

    1. Wow, Shannon. What a powerful example of how the bad can be turned into good. You can share those stories anytime here...I'm tearing up just reading it.

    2. aw, thanks amy. after reading your comment i realized i could post this on my FB without her seeing it, so that's what i've done, to have it for posterity. thanks for listening. :)

  4. Good idea. It's a story to preserve, and also to share. Does your daughter mind generally when you talk about her diabetes? Theo is, at this point, a little proud of the attention, but he has his limits. I wonder how this will change through the years. Depends on the kid, I'm sure.

  5. thanks amy, it's here with a photo, if you're on the fb: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003055708638

    y'know, it has definitely changed over the last couple of years. at first she was perfectly happy to talk about it with anyone. we gave presentations at school and she even spoke at an assembly once. now she is much more private about it, i think at this age she doesn't want something to make her stand out or different than her peers. well, medically anyway. she does plenty of goofy stuff to stand out personality-wise. but she can control that, you know?

    so yeah, i'd say it depends on the kid, and how old they are and how long they've had diabetes. she's 12 and has had it less than 2.5 years, so. sometimes she'll say "you should blog about that" and other times she'll say "don't you dare make a post about that". i always honor her requests (she didn't make a request about this topic one way or the other btw). but over the past year or so, i find she really likes reading other blogs, so i'm glad for her to have that resource.


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