So, you’re walking down the street and notice this kid, who has wires. Wires? What are they for? And what are they connected to? You’re wondering if they are even human. You just have to ask, but what do you say?
So, for your convenience, for this month’s blog, I decided to write some pointers to help you with things you can say, and definitely should not say to a diabetic. I, as a diabetic, love talking about my diabetes story and pump. But some questions, I just hate to answer. Some questions can insult us or make us feel like slapping you so hard that your face falls off, your eyeballs bounce into a trash can, and the garbage guy puts them into a trash compactor, where they get crushed and burned into ashes 😊 . So, for your safety, here’s just some friendly reminders of topics we love and hate to answer.
1.) “When were you diagnosed?” Most of us don’t mind telling people when it all happened, it was a major event in our lives! Maybe the diabetic you talked to (or will talk to) was diagnosed at a very young age and can’t remember. I was diagnosed March 3rd or 4th of 2016. It was really March 3rd, because it was like 11pm when we found out, but I was diagnosed after midnight. So really, I was DIAGNOSED the 4th.
2.) Asking simple questions like, “So what’s a good blood sugar?” or “How many carbs is that?” Is an easy question to answer, and most of us don’t mind telling you.
3.) Asking “What do you use to take care of diabetes and how?”. I always enjoy saying that I have a Tandem pump and a G6 Dexcom. That’s no problem to me. Also, asking, “So how do you take care of yourself now that you don’t get insulin?” That’s just straight curiosity. We would much rather you know, than not.
4.) Asking “How is it different from being like me?”. Like the difference between them and you. Telling you or any other non-diabetic why we’re different usually isn’t that big of a deal, for most diabetics. You might get a simple answer like, “I got sick and my organ died”, which isn’t a lie. We got sick because our organ died. If they (diabetics) give you a simple answer like that, they might just not like talking about it. It can be a very scary thing to handle, sometimes.
5.) Last, but not least, asking if there is anything you can do to help. Most of us just want you to be there, to listen. Maybe grab our glucose tablets for us, or wait up for us if we have to treat a low, or be patient with us if we are cranky because our blood sugar is high. Friends are so very important!
Now that you have some conversation starters, here are some things that you just may want to avoid:
1.) Try not to talk about it like you know everything about it. People say things like, “Oh, she needs to go to the doctor ALL THE TIME and she has to pump her blood and count calories and not eat sugar.” If you don’t quite know how I take care of my diabetes, just don’t pretend you do. Thanks. C;
2.) So, this isn’t really conversation topic we hate, but it is probably the most annoying thing anyone could say to a diabetic: Pronouncing it ‘Dia-beat-us’. So just a heads up, if that’s how you pronounce it, it’s wrong. Sorry. You actually say it ‘Die-a-beat-ease’. Or, if you forget, just say ‘Type one’. DIABETUS is highly annoying, sorry.
3.) This next one is saying phrases like, “Are you punching in dinner?” while we are getting out our pump. That is literally so annoying to me. I don’t know if any other diabetics have that annoyance that comes when people say things like that, but I for sure do. By ‘things like that’, I mean like, “Dialing up”, or “Watching your sugars” when I’m just calculating for food. I’m totally fine with people saying, “So are you calculating for dinner?” Don’t nickname things for us, let us do it ourselves. Thanks.
4.) Saying that we are counting ‘Calories’ instead of ‘Carbs’. We as diabetics count carbs. That’s what we’ve always been counting.
5.) The last, is when people treat diabetes like it’s us. That might not make much sense, so lemme explain: I’m pretty sure this is tough on all diabetics. If you’re a diabetic and it doesn’t annoy you, just let me know in the comments. When people look at me, I can almost see it in their eyes that they’re looking at me and seeing the word ‘DIABETES’ written in black across my forehead. They look at me immediately think, ‘Oh, she’s that girl with diabetes. She’s gotta watch her carbs, she’s gotta take shots, she has to wear a pump, she checks her blood sugar,’ and so on. When people don’t know me very well, diabetes is really the only thing they know about me. I get it. It’s just sad in a way. My close friends or family don’t see me like that. They see me like they see anyone else. But people I don’t know, they just see ‘DIABETES’. They walk towards me and ask, “So how’s your diabetes going?” Look, if you don’t know a diabetic that well and diabetes is all you know about them, get to know THEM! They are just like you. If you had cancer, were pregnant, or were missing a limb, should that be all people know you as? They take one look and just go, “So how did you lose your arm?” or “When’s the baby due?” or “when will your hair grow back?” It’s really annoying. That’s all they talk to you about. That’s all they know you as. Just get to know us. C
Thank you guys so much for reading this all, I hope it helps! There are A LOT of us out there, with type 1 diabetes, and you just may need this list. 😊