November is Diabetes Awareness Month, which means you might see a lot more infographics, quotes and myth-busters on your timeline than usual.
For those of you who don’t know, there are many different types of diabetes but the ones you probably hear about the most are type 1 and type 2. I have type 1, which is a result of the pancreas either not producing enough insulin (the hormone which regulates your blood sugar) or none at all. Unfortunately, there is no cure and there is nothing you can do to avoid developing it.
I’ve been a type 1 diabetic for twenty-four years, which means I’ve heard a fair few incorrect and infuriating phrases in my time. A lot of these have been unintentional, and I don’t usually take offence, but sometimes it feels like they are dripping in misinformation and can be difficult to navigate. So, if you ever get into a conversation with a type 1 diabetic and hear these phrases sneaking into your brain, I recommend changing tact.
“Can you eat that?” I’m pretty sure you shouldn’t ask anyone this but it’s really annoying when you’re diabetic. Medicines and technologies have advanced a lot over the years, which means that we can eat whatever we want. Also, please don’t say this to feign concern, we know you’re just being judgey.
“I don’t know how you can inject yourself.” My usual response to this is: “Well, the whole stopping-me-from-dying thing is a big motivator.” (As a side note, not every diabetic needs to inject so don’t assume this, either!)
“Is it contagious?” A parent genuinely said this to my mum when I was first diagnosed aged six and returning to school. No, diabetes is a health condition and cannot be ‘caught.’
“Should you be drinking that?” This is pretty much the same as the eating question; as diabetics, we know our limits when it comes to alcohol and how to look after ourselves. Just let us enjoy ourselves!
“My friend’s cousin’s step-sister was diabetic, and she drank cinnamon tea for a month and then she was cured! Have you tried that?” I don’t know why or when cinnamon tea became some mythological cure for diabetes but it’s a running joke in the diabetes community. I guarantee that if you have ever heard a story like this, it’s a genuine example of fake news. As diabetics, we have to see several medical professionals on a regular basis and cinnamon tea has never ended up on a prescription. Do you really think you know more about diabetes than they do?
“You don’t look diabetic.” As I said before, there are many types of diabetes, which means it affects people of all shapes, sizes and ethnicities. This phrase is sometimes used as a back handed compliment or a way to question just how much of a diabetic someone is. Either way, please don’t say it.