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Posted by on Dec 14, 2017 in General, Type 1 Diabetes | 13 comments

That purse doesn’t match your shoes

That purse doesn’t match your shoes

 

I did not think I really heard it quite right, but yeah there it was.  My purse did /does not match my shoes.  The comment came from a passing man in a church we were visiting to get our pictures taken.  It was received as I believe it was meant by the sender. What the gentleman was referring to, was my bag that I carry these days and it was meant both as a joke and a comment on my sexuality.  In my mind the comment went over like a bomb.

We were visiting a church

 

This occurred at a church Sheryl and I were visiting.  We were visiting just for a brief few minutes.  Our church is doing a new pictorial directory and they asked each of the members to be photographed so it is easier to recognize who is who on Sunday.  The photography session at our church was offered a few weeks ago and since I was out of town, we had to go to the makeup session which was scheduled where the company doing the directory was taking pictures for another congregation.  Since ours is not a large congregation (about 150 people) we do not rate our own make up session, so it makes sense that the company assigns our makeups at a different location where they are already working.  I had never been to that church before and will likely never have occasion again to go there again, so Sheryl and I were just one-time visitors.

Sitting in the hallway after check-in, Sheryl and I were waiting for the photographer to get ready.  The whole scene is like a small assembly line, sign in here, wait here, pictures there, and then the sales pitch room over there. It allows two or three photographers to get the photos for an entire congregation and sell the photos with minimal fuss and great speed.

Sitting in the hallway I decided to look in on my blood sugar. My insulin pump was showing I was in range, so I put my purse on the seat next to me and I started looking at my telephone.  Just the thing a typical male does, (you know ignore others and look at a screen), when out of the blue I heard a male say that purse does not match your shoes.   It was a blind sideswipe as the other male walked down the hallway.  After all, what sort of upstanding heterosexual male carries a purse?  The guy did not stop or interact, just the comment as he walked past.  I will never know if it was meant in jest or a stinging comment; but the remark stung me more than amused him.   Perhaps worst of all I did not get a retort.  What I got was his back walking away.

So much he did not understand

 

What the gentleman did not know of course was the rest of the story.  How for instance my “purse” (I prefer to call it brosack actually) is full of diabetes related items.  He did not realize that I carry a glucometer, two different types of glucose, an emergency set in case mine dislodges and extra batteries for my insulin pump.  He never stopped to find out that carrying a purse is part of what being a modern day, responsible person with type 1 diabetes is about, regardless of gender.   He did not bother to understand that I could either saddle my wife with these items or I could break down and buy a functional carry all.  He did not understand (or care) that I struggled with the decision to carry one for years and that regardless of his comment, I like my purse.  Nor could he possibly understand that in that moment no matter how modern I might seem it instantly took me back to my own sense of gender identity.

Of course, that was all for me to say or in this case not say.  What was I to do?  I wanted to stand up and start forking the items into his hands and ask if he could carry that crap around without a purse?  I wanted to ask who was carrying his cell phone or which medical devices he carried in his pocket?  I wanted to paste a sensor and a pump and a 42” tube on his body to carry around.  I wanted to ask him how he might feel always being attached, then check his blood sugar and tell him if it was high or low he might die.  I wanted to be angry, very angry.

 

Zig Zigler

Lesson reinforced

 

Of course, I said nothing.  I sat in stunned silence.  I was a visitor at a church and I thought wow, I cannot believe I just heard that.    This was made even more real because I tell that joke on myself all the time.  I laugh about my purse not matching my shoes.  I tell it like a mini story of how I came to have it and what I do with it. I show the contents to others and say you know in a modern world, it makes sense for men to carry a purse.  After all, my wallet or pockets could never accommodate all this stuff of necessity.

It was then I got angry.  But not with the man who made the inconsiderate comment.  I got angry with myself.  See, I have made similar remarks to myself and others.  I have said things in jest, not to be mean (though I am certain they have been perceived that way) but to make a comment.  I was angry because I know how this feels and I wish I could take all those remarks back, of course I cannot.

Yes, that person did not see and will never know I have diabetes and that is why I must carry so many items in my ‘purse’. He will never understand how close he came to my male ego striking out and his being told.  But in the end, I let niceties prevail.  I did nothing, and later under my breath I said thank you, not for the comment, but for the opportunity it gave me to once again learn that words do hurt.  Even those we do not mean to hurt, especially to those of us who have invisible disease.  It is a lesson I am thankful for today, the day after it occurred.

-30-

rick

 

PS:  I have a great purse, I don’t care what anyone might think of it.

 

 

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13 Comments

  1. Carry your purse with pride (often called a manbag in the UK). I sometimes get comments on the size of my handbag. For the same reasons as you, it needs to be large to fit in injections, spare needles, blood testing equipment and a GINORMOUS bag of jelly babies! (Do you get them in the US?)

    • Emma, I am a big fan of Elovate, it is a powdered Glucose, but I have been known to use smarties, a sort of semi hard flavored tab of sugar. Those things are so good I cannot keep them around.

      I found a great name for my purse which is used in some parts of Europe. “Brosack” I love that name. But I just normally call it a purse, I mean if you are going to break a norm it is best to go all the way. LOL.

      Thanks for the comment !!

  2. Rick, let me just say that my admiration for you continues to grow. As a strong male, you are showing others, whether they see it right away or not, that it is okay to care for yourself. That is such an important message and I am glad you shared this experience with us. However, I am sorry it left you feeling a little bummed. Also, thank you for the reminder that our words have so much meaning. Personally, I think your messenger bag is pretty cool. Both my son and husband carry one when convenient. Why not?

    • Cathy, for years I made Sheryl lug my stuff (diacrap is what I call it) around. I did not understand why she was always asking me to get a purse. Now I have noticed on our neighborhood walks when I have to bring my testing supplies and glucose, that Sheryl is asking me to carry some things for her. LOL. I always say, well you know I may not have room in my purse, or it is too heavy for me to carry that that stuff. We have a good laugh over my pretend reluctance. It is a great role reversal, and it reminds me of the wonderful sacrifice she made for me for many years.

  3. Rick, I love the vulnerability and honesty of this post… I think its the invisibility of this illness which makes people make up their own stories about what they see. I have learned never to see things at face value and your post reminds of this. Thank you

    • Thank you for the kind comment Rachel. We do tend to keep our diabetes out of sight and sometimes that harms us and others becuase making it look easy portrays a sense of shame, when in fact we are jsut trying to fit in with societal norms. I am happy that I have been able (with the help of therapy) to turn that sense of shame into embracing difference. Today I moslty like being different, but sometimes, a little comment can sting. When that happens I have to recenter and remind myself of all that good I am doing with my self care. This was a recentering moment. Recentering is good for the soul.

  4. You could argue that there are not many parts of life where it is easier to be a woman than a man. But when it comes to diabetes stuff, we’ve got it way easier. We mostly carry purses and from a young age we get used to toting stuff around.

    Good post, Rick. It’s always good to be reminded that words can hurt.

    • Laddie, thank you for the kind compliment. I used to call Sheryl’s purse “vacation purse” becuase she carriesd all of my stuff along with her stuff. She no longer has a vacation purse and I have a very functional bag. Carrying my own stuff is oddly freeing, I often get to talk to people about what it means to be a T1 and have all the stuff we have to carry around. It has often been a great source of education. But sometimes, I get reminded of the bias about gender identity that is still present in our society. Even that is a good a lesson for me. Words do matter and sometimes they matter in ways we can never calculate when they leave our mouth.

  5. I actually have always felt that men should carry a bag, rather than a) stuff their pockets, b) ask their wives to put them in their purse or 3) be unequipped. Let’s face it, we all have Stuff. Some of us have more Stuff than others. My guess is that the commenter in the hallway has stuff, only his isn’t physical items, but stuff in his head or in his heart that made a judgement about you and he just had to say it. And you are right – words hurt and judging hurts. Shame on him, but kudos to you for the foresight, and insight to rise above it. Carry your manbag with pride.

    • Leigh, I always told Sheryl I would have a purse when 5% of all men used one. One day she called and said she counted and 5% of men were carrying one that very day. LOL she worked at a university. I had a purse three days later. I am a man of has word after all.

      The truth is that getting one was the best solution. It was unfair to ask Sheryl to carry my many items of diacrap around. I love the various names, my favorite is brosack. So for me it is a purse, but the name brosack is awesome.

  6. I LOVE LOVE LOVE your purse!

    • Cathy, you may love it even more when you hear that it is a fossil brand purchased on the discount rack at DW Shoes. So not only did Fossil discount it, then DW shoes discounted it and if course it was on the here take this please stack. My very intelligent and crafty wife spotted it for me and she talked them down to $23.00.

      My other all leather purse is just as functional and it was purchased at full price around $140.00 I told Sheryl I needed a new one soon, she said not until at least 6% of men had three purses could I have another. Ahhh Sheryl !!!

      I am thrilled she helped me pick out a purse for me to carry. Even if it does not does not match my shoes.

  7. I am glad I do not have to carry as much stuff as you do to manage my diabetes and do not have to carry a purse.

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