When you think about diabetes you probably think about someone who eats poorly, loves sugar, hates exercise, and certainly someone who doesn’t take care of herself. Unfortunately, these stereotypes are far too common (there are at least 2 types of diabetes and they are often confused or blurred together, but that may be the topic of another post). Yesterday was World Diabetes Day, one day, one month within the year where we supposedly sugar-loving diabetics can blow up your newsfeed with the real facts, struggles, and successes that we face daily.
I don’t want your pity, I just want your understanding. I’m handling this. My body is a bigger rebel than I was as a teenager. But look at me now! I’ve graduated from college, completed my masters degree, and landed my dream job all before turning 26. I’ve married the man of my dreams, traveled the world, and I am even starting to think about having a baby. My body is affected daily by my lifestyle but it is NOT my lifestyle that gave me this illness and I certainly cannot fix it with “lifestyle changes.” So, on this World Diabetes Day, be open minded and understanding, please don’t give out incorrect or unsolicited advice, we know you mean well, but we got this.
When you think about diabetes instead of thinking about donuts and sugar, try to think about the 5 year old who just gave his first insulin shot, the hormonal middle schooler who has tried so hard just to fit it and is now learning to live with a life changing illness. Think about an 18 year old who’s leaving for college and will now manage his illness away from his family with new doctors and new pharmacies. Not to mention new friends, parties, and the all too famous college drinking scene. Think about the newlywed 27-year-old who thinks about pregnancy in complete fear, and about managing her diabetes while keeping a baby healthy inside of her ever-rebellious body.
Please remember that none of us asked for this diagnosis. We could not have exercised more or eaten better as a child to prevent this. We cannot take daily shots of cinnamon or apple cider vinegar as a cure. So please don’t ask me if I should be eating that, or even worse tell me that I can’t eat that.
Please remember if we don’t inject insulin we will die, regardless of how many carbs we avoid or how many healthy veggies we eat. When you think about type 1 diabetes this month, please think about the amazing people behind this label, who received a devastating diagnosis and now work hard 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with no days off and no vacations. We save our own lives on a daily basis and we are stronger because of it.
Here are a few places you can get more information.