This is something that is very personal to me, and I really haven’t shared how I felt about it up until now.
Over Christmas break of 2016, my family and I decided to go on a vacation to Egypt. This was the first time I have traveled with my Diabetes out of the country in the 9 years I have lived with T1D, so I knew I would run into a few issues along the way, but I also knew that I would have my family with me for help and support if I needed it. Many things were planned ahead of time, such as what Diabetic supplies to bring, how much to bring, what to do to treat lows in a foreign country (that may not have the same carb contents as the US) etc. But most of these issues I was worrying about were for when I actually arrived to my destination. I had not realized that problems could still present themselves in the traveling process.
I have never been treated poorly for having a chronic illness, nor have I ever been somewhat judged for this disease that I live with 24/7 and that I did not ask for. I am not going to name where I was when this happened, as I don’t want to call out any country. That being said, I have a lot of respect for the country and people I interacted with as they were just doing their job and trying to stick to their security precautions. But, as we had a layover more than halfway to our actual destination, we stopped in a country where we were not sure how they would react to me having to bring in all my low supplies such as juice bottles, syringes, snacks, etc.
I had a separate suitcase that I carried everywhere I went that contained all my Diabetic supplies as we were going to be on this trip for about three weeks. I had a bag full of tiny glucose shots for quick low treatments, and two normal sized bottles of apple juice as I did not know when I was going to find more juice to carry me through the traveling process, and wanted to be safe and secure knowing I had something to keep me alive that could prevent me from passing out, or worse. As we were getting through security, I stopped to tell the officer how I needed these two juice bottles for medical reasons. Right away, he said no and wanted to throw them away. My dad then stepped in and tried to explain to him why I needed them and showed him a letter from my doctor, but he refused to listen. I then began to accept that fact and think to myself that I still had the glucose shots that were actually allowed, so I would be okay if he had to throw away my apple juice. But my parents didn’t want them to throw away something that could actually save my life, as they too were unsure when we would be able to get a hold of something sustainable and in bulk to carry me out of a low.
They then called the head of the security team. She was a very tough person who was not willing to listen or be understanding. As mentioned above, I had a separate bag with all my supplies, as well as a few other bags, and having all these bags somewhat bothered this woman. She rolled her eyes every time she had to check one of my bags. I was shocked at her reaction as she shuffled through my supplies and told me that I didn’t need those two bottles of apple juice as I had other things in my bag to treat lows. First of all, nobody has the right to tell a person with a chronic disease what they “need.” Second, we had a letter from the doctor explaining everything, she just refused to look at it.
As I had things thrown away right in front of me, I was so disappointed in how some people truly are, regardless of what they see someone going through. My parents, being the kind and loving parents they are, went back after we supposedly got done with that awful security check and complained to the woman, telling her how what she did to me was very rude and how I have lived with this disease for 9 years and that I didn’t ask for Diabetes. The woman, remaining tough, had no choice now but to listen. She eventually began to agree that she may have been a bit rough on me, but she was still wanting to win the argument.
As I walked away from the argument between my parents and the security guard over my Diabetes and all the complications that came from it, I have never felt more sad and angry for having Diabetes than that very moment.
I have never felt more sad and angry for having Diabetes than that very moment.
Trying to be the tough, brave, strong person I am, I had to keep a straight face, but if I was alone, I would have cried my eyes out. I remember thinking all these thoughts like, “why me?”, “why Diabetes?”, etc. It was the worst feeling a person can have for feeling judged and emotionally abused for having a disease that can’t go away. I felt crushed. The rest of the day, I couldn’t think of anything else. I was in shock seeing how mean people can be and I just wished I never had T1D. I am ultimately grateful though, for my amazing parents who stood up for me, as difficult as it must have been. I am grateful that they love and care for me so much that they would fight for my rights as a Diabetic.
While this may sound sad and depressing, going through an experience like that taught me something. It taught me to prepare for the worst. It also taught me to be kind. I would never in a million years expect to be treated so poorly and I never wish anything bad on anybody. I believe in kindness overall and that we may not be aware of what someone is truly going through. That is why we must always treat others with love and respect. I now believe that certain people come in our lives for certain reasons, to teach us things, to put us in situations in which we can learn from, and ultimately at times to show us love, respect, and kindness.
Diabetic or not, we are all capable of something great and we should never judge or be mean to people.
Though I still sometimes stop and think of this incident, and it still bothers me from time to time, I have forgiven the security guards and learned to be better and braver than ever before.
Despite what these diseases put us through, that shouldn’t stop us from living the best life and being our best selves.