In real life it would be more like: Hi, my name is SD (no, that isn't my REAL name, silly!), I am 20(something) years old, I work at..... That's it. I won't divulge more, but suffice it to say, that diabetes is not part of my real life identity. I am not one of those girls who wear their insulin pumps on their waists. I am not one of those people who will be sitting around in a group of girls saying "ugh I think I am low, can someone get me some sugar."
I don't either check my blood sugar in public. Again, this might not boil down to secrecy either. Some people simply don't want to see it. (Ewwwww, SD, that is DISGUSTING. Can you do that someplace else?) But really, I am not very public about having diabetes. For an explanation, lets go, once again, to one of MWMF:
(scene: SD is sitting at one of her brother's shevah brochos. She has the good(?) fortune to be sitting right across from one of MWMF, the worst possible kind.)
MWMF: So, SD, what is your favorite subject in school?
SD: (who is 11th grade and doesn't think this question is age appropriate, and decides to give an equally age appropriate response) recess.
MWMF: [uneasy laugh]
SD: Look! They are serving dessert!
SD: [bites into her not-very-delicious-standard-sheva-brachos-parve-ice cream-dish] Yes?
MWMF: Is that good for you?
SD: [calls to MP at the next table] Is that an empty seat next to you?
That entire exchange actually happened (except for the last line, as there were no empty seats next to MP :-p). And that, in a nutshell(?) is exactly why I don't like too many people to know that I have diabetes. It is bad enough when things like this happen:
(scene: SD and her friends are fighting over the best way to split a danish)
Friend #1: SD, you can't have any! You are high!
Friend #2: Yeah, SD can't have. Now we only need to split it 4 ways. Yay!
SD: Ok, guys this is so not funny. What makes you say I am high?
Friend #3: You're always high SD. Now let's cut up the danish. In 4.
SD: Haha! I just tricked you guys! I bolused (took insulin) for the danish! Now if you don't gimme my share I will be low and one of you will have to give me a glucagon injection!
Friend #4: SD, that is totally playing dirty.
SD: Too bad. Give me my peice of the danish or else I will take more insulin and eat the whole thing.
Friend #1: Forget it. SD, go as low as you like. You aren't getting any danish.
Friend #2: Yeah, we just learned the number of hatzolah in my first aid course.
Friend #3: Um, guys, I dunno. Needles are really disgusting.
Friend #4: Ok, friend #1, you are gonna inject SD?
Friend #1: Of course not! Ewwww.
SD: Ok, guys, let me know when you finish arguing. Meanwhile, I finished the danish.....
Point is, there is a simple equation.
More people knowing about my diabetes=more useless advice=more aggravation
See,I don't need instructions on dealing with diabetes. Nor do I need chizuk. Nor do I need to hear you empathize how tough it must be, and how you know exactly what I am going through cuz your grandmother died from diabetes. Nor do I need to hear about your cousin who has diabetes and is actually married to a boy with very few issues. Really. It's ok. If I want stupidity, I can open a newspaper or something.
So, to an extent, I try to hide my diabetes from the general population. Not to say that shidduchim has nothing to do with it. Ideally, as I have been instructed by all rabbonim I have heard from on the topic, it is best to go out with the boy first, without him having any knowledge of my diabetes, and then tell him, on or after the third date. (Now, frankly, that terrifies me. I have hears such horror stories about this method backfiring. Plus, I just don't know how people say it. "Uh, I have something I should probably tell you.") The logic here is that he should get to know SD, the person, without thinking of her as SD, the diabetic. That way, diabetes won't factor into the decision to meet, rather, it will be one of the considerations.
Please realize that I am totally not embarrassed to have diabetes, any more than someone should be embarrassed to have blonde hair. This is how G-d made me. This is what he wants me to be. But that doesn't mean I feel a need to wear a sign on my back that says "diabetic". Nor does it say on my business card: Something Different, diabetic. I don't even wear the medic alert bracelet mom bought me. (If you are reading this mommy, I am totally kidding. I wear it daily! Yeah right. But then again if mom is reading this I have bigger problems to deal with.)
On the other hand, I am not obsessively secret about having diabetes. I am not going to whisper to my chosson under the chuppah "oh, by the way, I have diabetes. Quick, break the glass" I won't be divulging this as a big secret to my best friend after I get engaged, and after she promises not to tell anyone. And I am not one of those people who will stay home from a class trip because I am afraid that my pump will set off the metal detectors and someone will figure it out. I believe, if someone needs to know...let them know. If you are my seminary roommate, and I might need you to force sugar down my throat one day, you should know. If you are my close friend and we spend hours and days together, you should know. If you are my boss...well, my mom thinks you should know. In short, I believe that this is just like everything else in life. A balance must be struck.
So back to my original question; is diabetes a part of my real-life identity? I would definitely say that it is a very small part, if it is a part at all. Why is that? Simply because of the gross misinformation and the hideous misunderstandings that have become so commonplace among the society at large. And yes, as usual...shidduchim does play into it.