Sunday, 24 January 2016

"I couldn't be diabetic.."

I know for a fact that if I wasn't diabetic, I wouldn't know the first thing about diabetes. That's what I try to remind myself when people say things to me about diabetes that is rude/annoying and sometimes offensive. It does become difficult when I hear the same comments over and over again, but I'm not one to shoot you down due to a lack of knowledge or stereotypes from the media.
While I try to be patient and polite with a person's lack of knowledge with diabetes, I do believe it's important to gently educate those people (so they don't repeat the comment to others), that their comments can frustrate you to no end.

First of all, let's stop talking about diabetes (T1 or 2) like it's an option, it's not a tick box, a label or something to be taken lightly, diabetes is part of who I am. Diabetes is not a choice that I (or anyone for that matter) ever asked for.

Is it a curse? Or is it a blessing? Does diabetes make me the person I am today, a fighter, a warrior and most importantly, a believer that things do get better. Or does being a diabetic make me anxious, obsessive and a health freak? I'll tell you the answer, it's both.
Don't get me wrong, having diabetes makes me feel like crap sometimes, I often find myself saying 'Please can I just not inject for one day' or 'I wish I never had diabetes'. But on some days I do think diabetes has helped me to become a healthier person. You have to watch what you eat because you inject every time you eat; it's hard not to think 'maybe I won't have that piece of chocolate'. So in the most odd way possible, I have to thank diabetes for that. If nothing else, diabetes has shown me that you really don't know what goes on behind closed doors. I can hide my injections and just go to the toilet every time I needed to administer insulin and no one would notice. It's strange that something so apparent in my life, more people don't know than those who do, which is something I often forget. 

But for the giggles here is a list of things you should never say to a diabetic..

"You're so skinny! How do you have diabetes?"

This statement fails to differentiate between type 1 and 2. Even though some people with T2 find themselves afflicted with diabetes through other reasons, the majority of cases (especially recently) are caused by poor diet/lifestyle. Most T1 diabetics don't even have a chance to develop an addiction to Jammie Dodgers and Rich Tea biscuits before our lives revolve around blood tests and insulin. Nothing that we did caused our diabetes. 

"I couldn't be a diabetic, I'm scared of needles"
Well god damn it I ticked the 'not afraid of needles' box in the survey diabetes handed out before deciding which toddler was their next victim! Unfortunately, diabetes isn't like karma, and doesn't follow people around for their whole lives just to pick the mean people. Diabetes affects who it affects, regardless if you've called people names or if you have an injection phobia. It just happens. And when that dreadful day comes, your irrational fear of needles will suddenly be insignificant when you realise that those 5mm pieces of metal are your only way of staying alive.

"You're so brave, I don't know how you do it"
A statement that is always said with best intentions, and never thought to offend/annoy Diabetics. It'd be a bit far to say being called brave is offensive to me, more along the lines of it's untrue. Although I'm not one to compare diseases that I consider to be far more serious, being 'brave' does not come into the equation. The ways in which you can react to diabetes is very limited; you can deal with it and get on with your treatment, or you can die a drawn-out long death (including blindness and loss of limbs). That choice, to me, is not a brave one, but simply obvious. However rough it gets, injections and constant monitoring will never be worse than the alternative. 

"Does it hurt?"
Yes, having at least 4 injections a day does hurt. At the end of the day it's an unnatural sharp object entering my skin. Yes I have bruises all around my injection sites and sometimes my skin is so used to injections that I don't even feel the needle at all. After a lot of blood glucose tests my fingers have calluses all around the tips and they hurt sometimes but again, I'd rather have a few stings from injections than the alternative.

"Are you aloud to eat that?"
You know what, I've been managing my condition for almost 14 years now, I'm pretty sure I've got on alright without your guidance so far. I'll come back if I need nutrition and diet advice. Is your job to police me? As long as I inject I can eat whatever I want *wipes mouth of Victoria sponge crumbs*. Thanks for your concern, mum.

"Oh you have diabetes, I'd never have guessed - that sucks!"
No! I'd never have guessed either when 4 year old me was absent-mindedly playing in her back garden. And yes - I do have diabetes, thank you for reminding me! It's as if my condition doesn't need 24/7 monitoring and tweaking, I almost forgot I had diabetes for a second there.

So next time you go to say one of the above comments, just think about what that may mean to the diabetic. Most of these comments are said out of kindness and concern but fail to support us in any way, but more often than not just annoy us. Education on topics like diabetes is key, which is why I've left some websites down below if you want to educate yourself.

P.s. 1,200+ views so far, keep it going! I've got university interviews Monday-Wednesday so diabetesgeek will be pretty quiet. I'll get back on it asap after my brain has had a little rest, that's a promise ;)


Amber xx

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