Unfortunately, when most people hear the word "diabetes" they instinctively think of memes of obese children choking down chocolate doughnuts or rotund people feasting on giant lollipops and gallons of root beer. Sorry to burst your sugar-free bubble, but this stereotype does not replicate us type one diabetics accurately.
Type one diabetes is not self-inflicted, so we did not eat our way into this disease. In fact, our diet was never a factor in our diagnosis, and neither has it been affected by our diabetes. T1s can consume any food in moderation, as should anyone. In other words, any thing you can eat, we can eat it too.
None the less, I find myself constantly giggling at the following phrases that continue to spill out of friend's, family's, and stranger's mouths. If you're a T1 like me, I'm sure you can miserably relate:
1. "Are you supposed to be eating that cupcake? I don't want you to die on me!"
We appreciate the concern, but yes, yes we can. Diabetes is not the inability to eat sugar. Unlike others, T1's pancreases won't produce the correct amount of insulin to balance our food intake, so we manually inject insulin to make up for what we can't otherwise produce. Anyway, sugar is not the only thing we take insulin for. Pasta: insulin. Bread: insulin. Banana: insulin. Anything that contains carbs, or yes even sugar, we can still eat as long as we take our insulin.
I get this one a lot. Like I mentioned before, type one diabetes is not self-inflicted. I didn't eat a plethora of skittles and then, poof, diabetes. The exact cause for T1 is currently unknown. Whether we were a health nut or a couch potato, it wasn't our fault that we were diagnosed, we just got lucky.
3. "Are you taking drugs?"
This one actually makes me laugh. Yes, I'm injecting heroin into my stomach in the middle of calculus. What a rush.
4. "Can I watch you check your blood sugar? Ew! So much blood!"
No, it's not maple syrup that comes out of my finger like you must have thought, it's actually blood. Don't be dramatic it's not that much blood, especially since we do this at least four times a day.
5. "Don't only old people have diabetes?"
OK, I blame the TV commercials for this one. Diabetes does not discriminate against us; everyone is at risk. The reality is, one out of every 400 children has diabetes. 25.6 mil people have diabetes that are just over 20. I guess all 25 mil of us will be old someday, so, you're kind of right.
Type one diabetes is a chronic disease. So, as of right now, there is not a cure. The types of food that we eat will effect us just the same as it will for you. Our food choices do not in any way correct or neglect our diabetes. So, I'm going to continue to eat my nachos like any other average girl.
7. "I couldn't do that if I had diabetes. That must suck!"
When I'm told this, most people are referring to giving themselves shots and counting carbs in every meal/snack. We understand that it is a lot to learn and tend to, but don't tell us that it sucks because we know!
8. "Why don't you get a new pancreas?"
Why don't you get a new brain? First of all, it's not exactly a blissful process to receive new organs. Also, pancreases last around ten years. That would be at least seven life threatening surgeries that I alone would have to go through throughout my life. I'll stick with insulin.
9. "I know exactly what you're going through. My grandma had Type 2 diabetes."
If you really did know, you wouldn't be saying that. Most people consider these two diabetes the same, but type one and type two are vastly different, and I doubt you could know exactly what we are going through without personal experience anyway.
10. "So, do you have the good kind or the bad kind of diabetes?"
I would love to know what people actually mean by this one. I have never known how to reply to this because I honestly don't understand what they mean, and I'm not sure they do either. I wouldn't categorize any form of diabetes as "good." Some could possibly be easier to treat than others, but I wouldn't say that I have "the good one."
11. "This sundae is one big serving of diabetes."
I hear variations of this one the most. Others like "I ate so much! I think this McDonalds is gonna give me diabetes" and "This milkshake is like diabetes in a cup" are just offensive. Most people wouldn't dare to tease other victims of chronic diseases, so don't target us because you think our disease is comical. Not to mention, your insult is untrue and uneducated.
Speaking for myself and most T1's, we don't mind when people ask us questions, in fact we love it. What we can't stand is what people assume about diabetes. The jokes and comments tire quickly, so if you have something to say about us, keep it educated, and remember, we'd love a bite of that cake too.