It is my great pleasure to introduce you to the writer of Don’t Fear Diabetes. To date you may know him as Sisiay. Even without knowing his real name, I was drawn to him because of his balanced and positive attitude. I’ve enjoyed exchanging tips with him regarding DexCom and other tools, though I was sorry that the rice trick didn’t work on his ocean drenched receiver. I admire his outlook on healthy eating, his ingenuity and his photography. Enough from me though, let’s hear from him…
Welcome to my coming out party!
Well, not exactly, but this is a moment that I’ve been thinking about/planning for a long time, which, in a way, is sort of ridiculous, since the whole thrust of this post is going to be explaining why this isn’t and shouldn’t be a big deal.
Anyway, that said, here I go: My name is Christopher Angell, and I am a diabetic.
Wow. That wasn’t so bad.
For the past several months, I have been blogging and participating in other various online diabetes activities using the screen name sisiay. Sisiay is just a phonetic spelling of my initials, CCA. But starting now, I’m going to be using my real name for all my [diabetes-related] online activity. And hopefully I won’t confuse too many people (or search engines) in the process.
So why did I start my online diabetic life anonymously, and why am I using my real name now? Well, funny you should ask. That’s exactly what I was planning on telling you anyway.
When I first set up my blog, it never occurred to me to write anonymously, and my very first post was under my real name. But after I wrote that post, and was browsing through my RSS feed of other diabetes blogs, and I came upon this post at six until me about disclosure. And for some reason I freaked out and quickly went back and changed all of my profiles to a pseudonym. I don’t really know what I was worried about. I don’t try to hide my diabetes from anybody in my life (friends, family, insurers, airport security, that guy on the street who’s looking at my Dexcom funny, etc) so why was it important for me to hide it from strangers? And not just strangers, but strangers I was interacting with specifically to discuss diabetes?
I think the answer is that at the time, it was far easier to imagine negative consequences from using my real name than it was to imagine negative consequences from not using my real name. Would my insurance company read a post and decide something I did was grounds for terminating my policy? Would I someday be applying for a job and the HR manager would decide that it wasn’t worth the risk/expense of hiring a diabetic? Would I write something seemingly innocuous that would end up angering a former Special Forces assassin who would make it his life’s mission to track me down and torture me by forcing me to eat an entire package of Peeps from each of their 64 different holiday collections? It was hard to imagine something equally unpleasant (or improbable) resulting from anonymity.
But the more time I spent in the diabetic online community, the more I regretted my decision not to identify myself by my real name. One of the things you don’t realize until you really spend a lot of time reading patient/advocate blogs is that what someone says is only a small part of the value of their writings. How they present it, and how it ties into the larger framework of their life determines, to a very large extent, how you respond to individual comments/observations/advice/rants/etc. I began to notice that all of the people whom I trusted/followed the most were people who were fully disclosed. And I began to realize that it had a lot more to do with what they shared about their lives apart from diabetes than it did with their more clinical observations.
That, in turn, made me realize that writing anonymously made sharing information about my life outside my diabetes tips and experiences pointless, because personal anecdotes are only interesting when they come from a person, and I had made myself a character, a one-dimensional faceless voice.
And that’s not what I want to be anymore! So, I’m moving into the open. I’m going to talk a little bit more about life and work and travel. But still, mostly about diabetes and things I do to make living with it better (and the things it does to me to make living better…and sometimes worse). I hope no assassins take that the wrong way.
It’s nice to “meet” you Chris! You have always been one of the people whom I most trust and respect. But as I can see your point above, I greatly anticipate what you have to share now that you are completely out in the open. I’m keeping a close eye out for that next post. After seeing your photo – which completely made me smile – I couldn’t resist but share this one of Caleb who has always been a sunglasses kind of guy: