How Sweet It Is: Diabetes

How Sweet It Is: Diabetes

Really, it's not that bad.

I’d like to start out by saying (or writing, whatever) that I never planned on writing about diabetes. Not because it’s too difficult, too personal or anything like that. I just simply thought there were better things to write about. But after two of my friends and fellow Odyssey writers wrote about their respective struggles with ADHD and Social Anxiety, I figured I should also write about something that affects millions of people, including myself. So without further ado, let’s talk about diabetes, shall we? Or as actor and walrus impersonator Wilford Brimley calls it, “diabetus.”

While I’m sure you’re excited to read about something you may know little or care little about, I should probably first address my discomfort in referring to diabetes as a “disease.” Not that I find it offensive, mind you. In high school, my classmates’ started “Whack a Diabetic Wednesdays,” and just last year my roommate and some friends threw me a surprise party on World Diabetes Day (which included a playlist of any song with the word “sugar” in it). I found both of these instances hilarious, and the latter to actually be kind of sweet (pun intended). Anyway, I hesitate to call diabetes a “disease” because in terms of chronic illnesses, I hit the jackpot, especially when compared to things such as ALS and Cystic Fibrosis. Instead, I more or less consider diabetes an inconvenience. The only things it has kept me from doing is enlisting in the military (Go Army) and giving blood. But what exactly is diabetes?

First and foremost, there are actually two types of diabetes, Type 1 and Type 2 (there’s also Gestational diabetes, but that’s usually temporary). We’ll start with Type 1, since that’s what I have. And while I’m not a particularly “sciency” individual, I think I can give a pretty simple rundown of something I’ve had for half my life. So, remember the pancreas from high school biology? It’s one of those organs clumped together near the stomach, like the spleen or liver. The pancreas produces insulin, which your body uses to maintain your blood sugar, specifically by absorbing the glucose (from carbohydrates you consume) for your body to use as energy. If your blood sugar is high, you have too much glucose in your body, and the pancreas will release more insulin to consume more glucose, which will bring your blood sugar back down to a normal level. However, for some unknown reason, my immune system decided to attack and kill off the cells in my pancreas, rendering it useless and me a Type 1 diabetic (which actually happened the day before Thanksgiving, pretty ironic huh?). So with my pancreas out of commission, I have to rely on synthetic insulin administered through either injections or an insulin pump (the latter of which I use). I also have to regularly check my blood sugar by pricking my finger with a spring-action needle (or “lancing device”), and making sure a tiny strip on a monitoring device (or “meter”) absorbs the resulting blood. That monitoring device then shows a number reflecting my current blood sugar level, which I can use to determine whether I need to inject insulin to lower my blood sugar, consume carbohydrates (which have glucose, remember) to raise it, or preferably, do nothing. So basically, Type 1 diabetes is like trying to balance on a seesaw, while your own body is trying to throw you off it. And between the shaking, sweating, and fainting caused by low blood sugar, and the dehydration, fatigue, and nausea caused by high blood sugar, it’s a hell of a seesaw.

Type 2 diabetes, on the other hand, is a bit different. With Type 2, your pancreas isn’t rendered useless by your immune system. Instead, Type 2 diabetics have something called “insulin resistance”, which means your body doesn’t utilize insulin as it should. Type 2 is the most common form of diabetes, and unlike Type 1, is usually caused by obesity, unhealthy eating, and inactivity (although genes are also sometimes a factor). For Type 2 diabetics, their treatment mainly involves dieting, exercise and medication (which may or may not include the occasional insulin injection).

So there it is: an informal, uninteresting, and rather brief rundown of a disease that affects millions of people. You’ve taken the time to read about something you might have known little to nothing about, scientia est potentia. However, if there is just one little thing you can take away from this article, let it be this: Having diabetes does not mean you are unable to eat anything that contains sugar. Usually, I’d refrain from using all caps, as it reflects the general lack of intelligence you’d find on Tumblr or the Youtube comment section. But if I had a nickel for every time someone asked me “Does that mean you can’t eat sugar?” after I tell them I’m diabetic, I’d probably have enough to buy a candy bar, which I would eat, because I can.

Cover Image Credit: gigaom

Popular Right Now

If You've Ever Been Called Overly-Emotional Or Too Sensitive, This Is For You

Despite what they have told you, it's a gift.

Emotional: a word used often nowadays to insult someone for their sensitivity towards a multitude of things.

If you cry happy tears, you're emotional. If you express (even if it's in a healthy way) that something is bothering you, you're sensitive. If your hormones are in a funk and you just happen to be sad one day, you're emotional AND sensitive.

Let me tell you something that goes against everything people have probably ever told you. Being emotional and being sensitive are very, very good things. It's a gift. Your ability to empathize, sympathize, and sensitize yourself to your own situation and to others' situations is a true gift that many people don't possess, therefore many people do not understand.

Never let someone's negativity toward this gift of yours get you down. We are all guilty of bashing something that is unfamiliar to us: something that is different. But take pride in knowing God granted this special gift to you because He believes you will use it to make a difference someday, somehow.

This gift of yours was meant to be utilized. It would not be a part of you if you were not meant to use it. Because of this gift, you will change someone's life someday. You might be the only person that takes a little extra time to listen to someone's struggle when the rest of the world turns their backs.

In a world where a six-figure income is a significant determinant in the career someone pursues, you might be one of the few who decides to donate your time for no income at all. You might be the first friend someone thinks to call when they get good news, simply because they know you will be happy for them. You might be an incredible mother who takes too much time to nurture and raise beautiful children who will one day change the world.

To feel everything with every single part of your being is a truly wonderful thing. You love harder. You smile bigger. You feel more. What a beautiful thing! Could you imagine being the opposite of these things? Insensitive and emotionless?? Both are unhealthy, both aren't nearly as satisfying, and neither will get you anywhere worth going in life.

Imagine how much richer your life is because you love other's so hard. It might mean more heartache, but the reward is always worth the risk. Imagine how much richer your life is because you are overly appreciative of the beauty a simple sunset brings. Imagine how much richer your life is because you can be moved to tears by the lessons of someone else's story.

Embrace every part of who you are and be just that 100%. There will be people who criticize you for the size of your heart. Feel sorry for them. There are people who are dishonest. There are people who are manipulative. There are people who are downright malicious. And the one thing people say to put you down is "you feel too much." Hmm...

Sounds like more of a compliment to me. Just sayin'.

Cover Image Credit: We Heart It

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

Buying New Clothes Every Month Has Been The Key To Helping Me Become Happy With My Body Again

Loving my body in new outfits has boosted my self image so much.


Being body-positive has been really hard for me to do throughout 2019, despite there being an overwhelming surge in body-positivity around me, whether through my friends and family or YouTube. I look in the mirror and what I see is someone I want to make a jean size or two smaller like in the past. That being said, I've slowly been coming around to accepting the body I have now, instead of bashing it constantly. A key way I've come to accept the body I'm in now is through buying myself something new every month, like a new T-shirt or a pair of jeans or sneakers that help me see myself in a positive light. When I'm in a new outfit, I feel invincible. I don't think about how pudgy my stomach is, or about the hair I have growing in random places, like my neck or on my nose (yes, not just in, but ON too).

My bank account tends to suffer as of recently because of this, but it's worth it when I can genuinely feel good in what I am wearing every day. I like to wake up and think about how many outfits I can put together, ready to post my #OOTD for Snapchat without caring what anyone thinks. I've let social media dictate how I feel about myself more than I care to admit. I see how perfect all the models are in everything they're wearing from brands I know and love, yet when I try the same thing on, it's a whole different ugly story.

I don't enjoy trying things on to avoid the shame I feel when things don't fit me right, or if something that I thought would flatter me actually makes me look like a sack of potatoes. Instagram has really hurt my body image a lot — enough to make me delete it for a week after one post sent me spiraling. Going through those bumps made me finally realize it's not my fault if something doesn't fit. Sizes range depending on the item, it's the clothing items fault, not mine. Now that I see that, it's easier to brush off something not fitting me as it should. I know my size very well in the stores I frequent the most, so it's easier for me to pick out things I know will look good and not have to worry about the sizing issue.

Buying yourself something new is not something you should limit to every few months or longer. You shouldn't be afraid to go out of your comfort zone price wise every once and a while either. Coupons exist, stories always offer you them when you first sign up to receive emails and even texts. You can be crafty and still get a high price item for less. If you treat yourself to cheap things, you won't feel half as good as you want to. Granted, sticking to a limit is important but there's no shame in going over the limit every once and a while.

I love shopping as much as I love country music and writing short stories — a lot. Yes, I get yelled at almost every time I get something new. I need to save my money for important things, like for my sorority or for medical issues that could suddenly arise, or for utilities at my house next year off campus.

However, my mental well-being is not something I can ignore.

I can't push the good feelings aside to save 30 or 40 bucks a month. I don't want to feel as low as I've felt about myself anymore. I'm tired of feeling sad or angry at who I am, and I want to learn how to accept myself as I am. Buying myself something new, like clothes, is what offers a positive light to view myself under.

Whether you treat yourself to dinner at your favorite restaurant, or to face masks, or to a new movie when it comes out — don't be afraid to do it. Put yourself first and you'll realize your worth and how much you've been ignoring it in the face of poor confidence.

My confidence isn't back up to where it used to be, but it's getting there.

It may not be the most cash efficient method of self-love, but my body positivity is better than it was a few months ago. Aerie and American Eagle have really helped me become happier with my body, and I can't thank them enough for being more inclusive for people like me who are learning to love themselves again in a new body.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel for all of us hoping to promote our own body positivity, and it could all start with a simple purchase from your favorite store after you read this.

Related Content

Facebook Comments