Two weeks before my 40th birthday I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. For the last six years I have been living with a chronic illness that, for the most part, goes undetected by the people I encounter in my day to day life. Only when I suddenly have a low blood sugar or have to calibrate my insulin pump are people fleetingly aware of what I live with every moment of every day.
Diabetes is one of the more stealth of the chronic diseases. Every seven seconds a person dies due to complications from diabetes. One out of every 12 people has diabetes and one of every two people with diabetes don’t even know they have it.
When I was diagnosed, I had very little knowledge about diabetes. As with any diagnosis, I am continually amazed at the things that people say:
How can you have diabetes? Nobody in your family has it! No. Nobody in my family has it, thank goodness. I guess I got lucky. Surprisingly, even doctors have said this to me.
Do you have the good kind of diabetes or the bad kind of diabetes? Ummm… Any diabetes diagnosis is scary, whether it is Type 1 or Type 2. The difference is that Type 1 is insulin dependent and Type 2 is managed with oral medication. Both types of diabetes are better managed with close attention to diet and exercise. So are many other diseases.
Wow! I can’t believe you have diabetes, you aren’t fat! I’m not thin, I’m not fat. I’m diabetic. In fact, before I was diagnosed with diabetes, I was quite happy with the weight I lost. Little did I know it was because I was living with blood glucose in the 500+ range for quite some time.
You must’ve had a sweet tooth as a kid. Actually, no, I didn’t.
Well, at least it is a controllable disease. Yes, modern medicine has made diabetes a much more manageable disease. However, it cannot be cured. I will never go into remission. Also, it is a crazy expensive disease. Thankfully I have good insurance. I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t. If I didn’t have insurance, I wouldn’t be able to afford my insulin pump supplies, which average $700/month. If I didn’t have insurance, I wouldn’t be able to afford insulin and test strips, which average $760/month. That is $1,460 a month for the rest of my life. Just to stay alive.
I could never do finger sticks and inject needles into myself! Yeah. I never thought I would have to do that either. It is amazing what you’ll do so that you don’t feel sick or end up in the hospital. Or worse.
Should you be eating/drinking that? I can eat and drink anything you can. I just have to take insulin to cover it.
I read on the Internet that if you do X then the diabetes will go away. The number of cures and ways to regulate sugar levels is astounding. I am amazed that medical practitioners that devote their lives to helping people live with diabetes haven’t heard about how eating a pound of beans a day, adding cinnamon to everything or taking Vitamin B every day will cure diabetes!
These are just some of the things that I’ve heard since becoming a diabetic. As with any disease, questions or statements that seem irritating or uninformed are best answered with proper information and, even better, with a little humor.