Let me help you patronize me

Me (left), Fairy Godmother (Right). Photo Credit: Julie Meilicke

We’ve all heard ill-informed statements about type 1 diabetes. They range anywhere from a little annoying comment to a damned right offensively stupid remark. They may come from a well meaning extended family relative or from Jane Ignoramus at the grocery store.

Here are a few things people think I want to hear:

#1 I want to read random articles about type 1 diabetes that in no way relate to me at all

This has happened to me many times, when family members who I haven’t seen in two years send me a random article about type one diabetes. I remember one in particular, about a woman who wrote that having diabetes isn’t living life. She wrote that it’s just going through the motions until you die. I think I was supposed to feel glad that my family member was trying to understand my disease. Let’s get something right, I have diabetes. Diabetes doesn’t have me. If I want to do something; I’m going to do it! I’m here! I’m alive!

#2 I want to hear about cures or curing diabetes

People have told me to go to the Amazon Jungle and smoke ayahuasca, or to eat cinnamon, or that the government is hiding the cure! The truth is that none of these things are going to cure my diabetes. I have to deal with reality. If there is ever a cure that’s great! If not, then I’m still going to have to focus on taking care of myself.

I would love to wake up tomorrow and hear on the news that there is a cure for diabetes, and all I have to do is go down to CVS and pick it up. I’ve had t1d for 20+ years, and I have heard for ever one of those years that a cure is five years away. Who knew five years would take so long?

#3 I want to hear about your uncle who lost weight and now doesn’t have diabetes anymore

First of all, t1d is not caused by weight! It is an autoimmune disorder that causes your immune system to attack the insulin producing cells in your pancreas. Some type 2 diabetics can lose weight and change their lifestyle in order to live life like non-diabetics, but t1ds are not this way. T1d is for life unless you are lucky enough to have a successful pancreas transplant.

#4 I want to hear all the brilliant advice you have to give me

I’ve only had diabetes for two decades and have experienced many tiring and horrible physical experiences; but please tell me how you think I should eat or how I can raise a low blood sugar by eating an orange. You obviously know better than me and are right for arguing with me… not!