What would I like people who don’t have diabetes to know? Ah the list could be long!
I recently went to a diabetes event and there was much talk about the positive parts of diabetes, downplaying the bad and making the best of each day.
I agree with that to an extent. I will never tell my son he can’t do something. I will always promote the best of life with diabetes to him. I try to expose him to people who are positive and doing great things. As with his brother, I remind him that he is smart and the sky is the limit.
This changes when I am dealing with people who have no understanding of diabetes or people who are in an arena of politics that I need to influence. I want the outside world to understand that while people with diabetes are pilots and hockey players, that they are lawyers and nurses, they are teachers and mechanics BUT they have to take extra precautions.
I want people to know that these people who look so normal on the outside, work hard to maintain their health. Each night they go to bed wondering if they will wake up. This is not some abstract or unfounded fear, this is their reality. People do go low and if left undetected, these people can die.
These people have to measure each morsel of food that enters their mouth and know its nutritional components. They have to know how much insulin their body will require to properly use that insulin. If they make a mistake in this math, they will have to pay the consequences. They will experience blurred vision, head aches, and a poor attitude if they are high. They will be shaky and not be able to think clearly if they are low. They will appear drunk or aggressive. They will appear to be very different people from their normal relaxed attitudes. These are the realities that they face each day.
They carry around a suitcase of supplies–glucometers, test strips, glucose, insulin pumps, syringes, CGMs, and more. They test their blood and inject themselves with insulin numerous times each day. They stab so many holes themselves, that as Joe Solowiejczyk notes, its amazing that they are not human sprinklers with liquids squirting out all over their bodies!
These amazing people with diabetes rarely complain. They do things to their bodies each day that we never think of. They play God in trying to figure out what their body would normally do in each situation like when stressed, when active or when relaxing on the couch.
They are asked to spend incredible amounts of money to keep themselves alive. Like those living with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and cancer, the medications and devices that they require each day to stay alive and healthy may or may not be covered by insurance. The out of pocket costs can reach thousands of dollars each month. The stresses are incredible.
So what do I want people without diabetes to know about those who live with it? These people with diabetes are REMARKABLE! Their pancreases have quit on them but they have not quit on life. They work harder than you and I. They have to think about things that they shouldn’t just to get up each morning but they continue to fight each day. Be amazed by them. Be proud of them and most of all support them in every way you can!