Thursday, November 1, 2012

It's Diabetes Awareness Month: Let's Celebrate!

Just kidding.   Diabetes isn't a thing to be celebrated.

But November is Diabetes Awareness Month.
And I do have Type 1 diabetes...

So in honor of this awesome {not really} month, I thought I would share some info about this disease I have been blessed with {not really times 1000} and give you some pointers on how to not make me super annoyed regarding the topic as well.

I am gonna keep it simple and try not to give you a case of the yawns.
Here's the low-down on the basics you need to know:
There are two main types of diabetes - Type 1 and Type 2.
(There is also gestational diabetes, but I am not going to get into that.)
Diabetes is essentially a problem with insulin. Insulin is the substance needed to get the sugar in your bloodstream into your cells to be used for energy. When this doesn't happen, it leads to the build-up of sugar in the blood - and thus the term high "blood sugar" is born.

Type 1 diabetes (also sometimes known as juvenile diabetes - which is misleading because people can get this type at any age) occurs when your body no longer has the ability to produce insulin. It's an autoimmune disorder - meaning your body basically attacks part of itself. The cells that produce insulin are destroyed, so you have to supplement with insulin via shots or a pump. This type of diabetes is of a rapid onset. And once you have it, you have it. Period. Type 1 diabetics need insulin 24 hours a day as well as insulin to cover all meals, which is done by counting carbs.

Type 2 diabetes is different. In this type the body becomes resistant to insulin. Insulin is still made - no cells are destroyed- but because of the resistance, the insulin doesn't make it into the cells like it should. Type 2 diabetes is usually gradual in development. Low-activity levels, being overweight, and poor diet are factors that contribute to the disease. People with Type 2 usually are able to take pills to help decrease the body's resistance to insulin, although in some cases this is not enough and they have to begin taking insulin too. Losing weight, changing your diet and exercising can do a lot to eliminate the need for medication altogether.

Okay, so now we have that covered.  This brings me to the rant portion of my post.
Here are some things you need to keep in mind.

1.  Type 1 and Type 2 are NOT the same.
See above information.
They are two different diseases, with different causes and treatments.
I feel like type 1 diabetics get lumped in with all the information out there about "diabetes" in general. You know what I am talking about: the video footage they show on The Nightly News - the ones with morbidly obese people shown from the neck down walking down the street - while Brian Williams discusses the newest horrible statistics. I don't like being associated with that. Some people hear "diabetes" and that is their go-to visual picture. I didn't get diabetes from my horrible diet. And I don't wear unflattering spandex pants either, thankyouverymuch.

2.  Don't tell me what to eat or that I should start working out to "cure" myself.
Nothing is better than eating a delicious piece of birthday cake and having someone come up to you and say something like "So naughty! You shouldn't be eating that!" and smile like they said something absolutely hilarious. A close runner-up is when someone (who is Type2) comes up to you, pokes you in the stomach, and says loudly to a room full of people: "Us diabetic girls have to keep a watch on our fat bellies." [Unfortunately a true story... and I was also pregnant at the time which made it even better.]

This annoys me to no end!
Nutritional information aside, from a carbohydrate standpoint, a piece of cake is the same to my body as a banana and glass of skim milk. My insulin covers it exactly the same. I could eat just plain lettuce all day long, but I would still require insulin every single day for the rest of my life. Period. So stop with the "joking" comments when I eat a cheeseburger or have a piece of cake like everyone else. You're not particularly funny. I am just kind enough to roll my eyes behind your back instead of to your face.

Same goes for the exercise comments. For sure I should exercise more than I do. But no amount of marathon running or weight lifting is going to "cure" me. But thanks for the tips...

3.  Stop giving me your advice.
Are you a nurse specializing in diabetes? A physician's assistant? A doctor? Do you even have Type 1 diabetes yourself?
Then S.T.F.U. keep your "medical" advice to yourself. 
You cannot believe how many people come up to me on a regular basis to tell me about how their great aunt tried this special diet or how a friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend tried this vitamin cleanse that made it so they never have to take insulin again. Clearly you just don't get it. Which is fine. Just shut your trap.
When I hear that someone has cancer, I don't go up to them and suggest they change their chemo regimen or tell them that they should just cut out dairy and they will be cured. Because that is stupid - not to mention rude. And again, obviously, you just don't get it - which leads me to my next item...

4.  Ask me questions.
I am all for questions. That's how we all learn. Because unless you or someone close to you has the disease, you probably don't know much about it. When people give me weird looks about my pump, I explain what it is. If people ask about how it works, I (literally) lift up my shirt to show them the site where my tubing goes in. When people ask about what foods I can eat, I explain the differences between type 1 and 2 so that they aren't another annoying person who comments on the "naughty" foods I eat.
I don't expect you to know much about the disease - I didn't know anything about it until I was diagnosed myself. So instead of acting like a total know-it-all jackass, ask a question or two and maybe learn something new.

Okay, okay... rant complete.

I really should make a copy of this and hand it out to people.
Over kill? Yeah, probably.

But I sincerely do hope that some of the info was helpful. And that I will never ever again receive another belly poke from someone referring to my "diabetic belly."   Here's hoping.



  1. Replies
    1. Riding in on my horse with a cowboy hat atop my head: "You check your blood sugar and you check it often. There's no reason not to."

    2. Now you could be rollin' up on wheels saying, "I didn't wanna do it!"

  2. Very well said. Keep on eating your cake in pride, sista!

  3. "Ain't nobody cuttin' off my leg! And that's that!"

    In all honesty, I loved this blog post. I also agree with Justy, eat up that delicious cake!


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