Wednesday, September 24, 2014

I don't need you judging my diabetes

It's really easy for people who don't have diabetes to judge others who do have it.

Should you be eating that?

Why did you let your blood sugar get so high?

Your blood sugar is low...again?

You forgot your insulin? How can you forget?

Someone who has diabetes doesn't say these things to another person with diabetes. Only people who have regular-functioning organs say things like this because they haven't been in the position where they have to take responsibility for what their body just does for them normally.

Let me tell ya something. It's not always easy to "control" diabetes. And it's very easy to forget to give yourself insulin before eating a meal, no matter how long you've been injecting or pumping. It's like forgetting anything else...your keys, your phone, that appointment you had. Sure, it's more serious than those things, but I am human, which means I make mistakes. I forget to do things. I can't be perfect.

So, before you judge a person with diabetes or tell them what they should be doing, remember that they probably already considered whatever it is you're about to tell them. They've already felt bad about that high blood sugar. And judged themselves for forgetting their insulin. You telling them that "if they just follow a healthy diet and take their medications, then everything will be fine" is not actually going to be helpful.

Now, if you're in a position where you're helping to care for someone with diabetes because they're not taking care of themselves, then it's a different ball game. I've never been in that position and I can't speak to that. I can only speak about what I know.

And what I know is this. This morning, my blood sugar was 74. I remembered thinking I could give myself less insulin or just give myself a dosage after I eat. Well, by the time I was done making my breakfast and eating it, I completely forgot about this conversation I had with myself. It wasn't until a couple hours later that I remembered I hadn't given myself any insulin. I had one egg, three pieces of turkey bacon, coffee, and one piece of wheat toast with a bit of jelly. My reading was 224. Instead of getting upset with myself, I gave myself insulin, and went about my day. Because sometimes that's all we can do. And sometimes, it's all we should do.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Diabetes: the Silent Disease

How many times have you tried to hide your diabetes? Smile and fake laugh when someone makes a diabetes-related joke? Avoid a chance to educate someone about it?

Hiding it doesn't make it better. Being silent doesn't make you strong.

These are the two things I'm constantly learning as a person with diabetes. When I was diagnosed, I cried. But after getting over the initial shock of it, I took it on like it was no big deal. I didn't want it to get the best of me. I didn't want it to affect me. Anytime I poked myself with a needle or mentally counted carbs or took a sugar break, I adopted the attitude of, "It's no big deal, guys. I'm fine. Don't look at me. Go on with things like you normally would! EVERYTHING IS NORMAL AND NOTHING IS DIFFERENT."

But as people with diabetes, we know that's not true. Nothing is normal. Everything is different.

It's going to affect us. Sometimes for the better (hello, better eating habits and a stronger commitment to my health) and sometimes it's for the worse (hello, anxiety about low blood sugar and stressing over high ones).

But hiding it and pretending that everything is normal is not the best approach—for you or for anyone else. I can't tell you how many times (in the last 9 years of having T1D) people have found out that I have type 1 diabetes and they say things like "but you're so skinny" or "well, you look really healthy." Newsflash, people who just don't know. I may look fine on the outside, but that doesn't mean I am okay on the inside.

I may go to the gym, but that doesn't stop the high blood sugars that make me feel lethargic and crappy. I may make better food choices but that doesn't stop the lows that lead to shaky hands and back sweat. I can make all the healthy choices I want, and diabetes can still rage on.

But the more you pretend it's okay, the more people will remain uneducated about diabetes and think it's okay to lecture you on food choices or make dumb jokes. When you hide it, you're perpetuating the idea that diabetes is something that needs to be hidden—as if it's a weakness or something to be ashamed of.

Don't hide in the bathroom when you have to give yourself a shot. Don't stay silent when someone makes an untrue or hurtful comment. Don't pretend it's okay when it's not. The only way to change peoples' perceptions about something is to speak up.