It always surprises me how little the general population knows about diabetes. After 20 years with Type 1 diabetes, it shouldn’t, but it still does. I was at a funeral the other day and one of the gentlemen there was interested in learning about diabetes. His mother had lived with diabetes which I think prompted his curiosity. Some of his questions really surprised me.
He seemed shocked that I take up to 7 injections a day to survive and properly manage my diabetes. “Don’t they have anything to fix that? Like a pacemaker, but for diabetes?” he asked. No, they don’t. I sure wish they did. I told him about the artificial pancreas that they are working on, but for now, there aren’t a lot of options. I explained insulin pumps a bit. With insulin pumps, people always assume that they do all the work for you. I made sure to explain that even with a pump it would still be a lot of work to manage diabetes.
“Can’t you just eat a certain way, so you don’t need to take shots?” he inquired. Ah, that’s a good one. I get that question far more often than I would like. I explained that no, I can’t. My husband joined in the conversation and let him know that my body doesn’t make insulin and that I always need some form of background insulin, regardless of what I eat. Giving up shots by following a special diet isn’t an option for me.
We continued talking for a while, and he asked if my behavior changes if my blood sugars are out of whack. My hubby didn’t hesitate for a second. He told him how I acted sort of drunk and silly when I have low blood sugars and about how it’s more like a game of “Mortal Kombat” when I have high blood sugars. His explanation made me laugh. I never looked at it as “Mortal Kombat”, as I don’t truly get violent when I’m high, but it is true that I can be quite difficult, and irritable, when dealing with very high blood sugars. It’s a good thing that funny man of mine really likes me!
Regardless of the somber occasion, I was really glad to have someone approach me that genuinely wanted to understand diabetes. Too often people just make presumptions. Too often, they look at you like you choose to live this way. On the way home, I voiced some disappointment to my husband that people don’t know much about diabetes. He agreed, but he also pointed out that he only knows so much because of having a wife with diabetes. It was true, if I didn’t have diabetes I probably wouldn’t have a clue about it either. It is a complicated condition. I wondered if the man at the funeral had spoken much to his mother about diabetes. Clearly he had a lot of questions and misconceptions about it. Our families should be our greatest support system. They should understand exactly what we go through.
It’s so important to educate people. Even if we don’t think telling one person makes a difference, it truly does. Imagine all the people we could reach if we just spoke out a bit more. I think society needs to know about what we live with. Maybe they’ll think twice before they say no the next time they are asked to contribute to a diabetes fundraiser. It’s not simple to control diabetes. If there was a gadget suited to controlling diabetes for us, or an easy button of any kind, we’d be all over it.