Type 1 Diabetes: Q&A

There’s no such thing as a stupid question, but I do get some pretty silly ones. Here are the most common questions and comments I hear regarding my diabetes:

1: Ohmygod, I could never give myself a shot!

I don’t recall signing up to give myself shots…an average of six times a day, every day, for the rest of my life. In fact, I used to be petrified of needles! But I would die if I didn’t inject. It’s not a choice.

2: My grandmother has diabetes, so I know all about it.untitled-infographic2

Chances are that your grandmother has Type 2 diabetes. If she has Type 1, I’m sorry – I’m just going

off of statistics and experience here. Only 5% of diabetics are Type 1. Yup, I’m one of the chosen ones! Ha.

The main difference that I’d like to note is that Type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented or reversed, while Type 2 often can be with proper diet and exercise. I’ve included a handy little infographic to
further explain the differences between the types.

The types are so different, in fact, that many type ones want the name of our disease to be changed. They are not the same disease. They do not arise the same way, nor are they medically treated the same way.

Another version of this comment I’ve gotten many times is ‘my dog/cat/bunny has diabetes.’ Come on people!

3: Does that hurt?

No, it feels great! You should try it sometime! JK. I mean, stabbing yourself with a needle isn’t exactly therapeutic. But you get used to it. Sometimes it hurts more than others, like when you hit a nerve or a muscle. Appetizing, huh?

Same goes for the finger pricking. It isn’t pleasant, especially since my fingers are callused over from the abuse, so I often have to give it a few tries. But I’m used to it by now, and I’ve found techniques to make it hurt less.

4: What can you eat? (and/or ‘can you eat that?’)

I can eat anything my little heart desires! I just have to calculate it and cover for it with enough insulin.

There are certain foods and beverages that don’t agree with my pancreatically challenged body, but every diabetic has different trigger foods. For example, no matter how much extra insulin I inject, my blood sugar is always crazy high after eating Chinese food. So I generally try to avoid that.

I also don’t see the point in drinking real soda or lemonade or any of that when there are so many carb-free drink options on the market. It’s a waste of insulin, in my opinion!

5: #diabetes!

I honestly hope the Instagram/Twitter/Facebook gods exact some sort of painful (but not life-threatening) revenge on you for hashtagging “diabetes” on a picture of unhealthy food.

That is not how you get diabetes. Even Type 2 diabetics didn’t get their disease from eating a piece of chocolate cake.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, none of us asked for this disease. There is absolutely nothing we could have done to prevent it. We were simply dealt a crappy hand. I think our life-threatening, chronic illness is painful enough without you mocking it. Would you hashtag cancer, MS, or ALS? Didn’t think so.

In my experience, the stigma surrounding diabetes is one of the hardest parts of dealing with this disease. As if the constant worry about both the present and future in terms of our health isn’t enough, we often get blamed or made fun of for our disease when it is completely out of our control. Listening to and reading ignorant comments and misconceptions day after day is extremely hurtful – not to mention exhausting.

Mind you, I don’t necessarily blame individuals for their lack of understanding of Type 1 diabetes. I blame our entire society for the lack of education surrounding a disease that takes the lives of so many of our people – and makes those lives so hard along the way. Personally, I never knew a thing about diabetes before I was diagnosed. I thought it just meant you had to give yourself a shot sometimes.

That being said, please make sure to educate yourselves before making comments about any disease. And next time you take to Instagram to show your unhealthy dessert, please keep my chronic illness out of it.

6: My brother’s ex-girlfriend’s cousin has diabetes, but she has it really bad.

Type 1 diabetes is type 1 diabetes. Yes, every single diabetic has a very different experience with the disease, but we do have the same disease. Our pancreases are equally defective. Our immune systems are equally as vicious. So while someone may, at the moment, have better blood sugar control than another, no one’s diabetes is “bad” or “good.”

7: But you’re not fat!

If you don’t understand this by this point in my post, I’m worried.

8: You’re lucky you have an excuse to eat dessert!

Hey, guess what?! You have an even better excuse to eat dessert! Do you know what it’s called? A functioning pancreas!

Yes, I have to eat something before I go to bed every night so that I can sleep without dying. No, it isn’t awesome. Seventy-five percent of the time, I just want to go to bed. I don’t want to shove empty calories into my mouth and give myself a second wind.

Yes, I have to treat every single low blood sugar with food or a carby beverage. This is much less fun. Lows always come at an inconvenient time, which means that not only is eating a pain in my butt, but the pickings are usually extremely slim. Second of all, my taste buds don’t really function when I’m low, so I don’t even get to enjoy the food. And lastly, it’s unbelievably frustrating when you’re trying to be healthy (to offset your type-one-induced weight gain) and have to keep eating things you don’t even want.

9: You shouldn’t eat that stuff.

When I broke my wrist last year, I had to be transported by ambulance. The EMTs had to test my blood sugar, and it was very high. Probably because having a bone poking out of your arm is just a little bit stressful/painful. Regardless, I humored them when they asked what I had eaten for dinner. It happened to be Shake Shack. They then lectured me about how if I continued to eat like that I would lose my limbs.

Listen up, you so-called medical professionals – and everyone else. I could eat a bowl of quinoa and kale and have a horrible blood sugar. In fact, it happened last week! And I could eat a burger and a milkshake and have a perfect blood sugar. That’s how this disease works.

Should I eat fast food every day? No. Should ‘normal people’ eat fast food everyday? No.

10: Splenda gives you cancer.

I don’t know how long I’m going to live. In fact, no one does. So I’m going to enjoy my food. If that means putting a Splenda in my coffee or having a Diet Coke with dinner, then I’ll do exactly that.

When I’m at home, I do try to use Stevia, as it’s said to be more pure. However, I have to deal with the realities of daily life. Coffee shops don’t carry the natural, more expensive sweeteners.

If I listened to every news report about what causes cancer, I’d have to live in a bubble and consume/touch/wear nothing. So would you. So if I don’t want to drink my coffee bitter, I won’t. Everything in moderation!

11: Are you still on insulin?

Um, yes. And I always will be. You are too, actually, you just don’t take it out of the fridge!

12: But you can grow out of that, right?

Nope. Type 1 diabetes has no known cure. Hopefully that will change someday!

13: Well, it could be worse.

Trust me, I know that. I am unbelievably lucky. But how about you make a mental list about all of the things you’ve complained or vented about today? Could it be worse? Always. Does that make your problems insignificant? No.

14: You’re doing that at the table?

Sometimes I go to the bathroom to do my insulin. But more often than not, I slyly slide my shirt up and give myself a shot under the table. Usually, no one notices. In fact, friends and family have told me I’m so sneaky about it that they never know it’s happening.

But guess what? I don’t even owe it to anyone to be sneaky. Unless you want to excuse yourself from the table every time you eat or drink to go secrete your insulin from your working pancreas in private, I don’t owe it to you to do the same.

15: You’re too young to have diabetes.

Again, while age is a prominent factor in Type 2 diabetes, that does not apply to Type 1. Ironically enough, Type 1 diabetes was formerly known as Juvenile Diabetes. It can happen to people of any age, which is why they tried to drop the “juvenile.” But yes, the majority of Type 1 diabetics are diagnosed early in life.

(Sidenote: I’ve had multiple “medical professionals” say this to me before, too. All I can say is: WTF?!)

I hope this post was informative and that my sarcasm wasn’t too harsh for anyone! Stay tuned for a personal essay tomorrow. Thanks for reading!

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