I've had Type 1 diabetes for quite some time now: thirteen years, to be exact. Within that time, I've become more aware of how misunderstood Type 1 diabetes actually is.
It's hard living in a society where you're placed in the same category as those with Type 2 diabetes. Don't get me wrong; we all fight a hard battle. But it's different.
In fact, they are two completely different diseases in my eyes. I'm here to set the record straight:
1. "Did you get diabetes from eating sugar or gaining weight?"
Type 1 diabetes occurs when your body attacks the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. There's no specific rhyme or reason as to why this happens.
It's possible that it occurs due to genetics or environmental causes, but there is no significant proof to back these theories. But my diet and weight are definitely not causes.
2. "Should you be eating that?"
Yes, I can eat that slice of cake. The myth that diabetics can't have sugar needs to be thrown out the window right now.
I can eat sweets in moderation, as long as I undergo proper insulin management.
3. "Does using needles hurt?"
Of course it hurts. But I don't have a choice in the matter.
I don't enjoy having to poke myself several times a day. But unfortunately, I have to in order to stay alive.
4. "My grandma has diabetes."
OK, stop right there. Yes, there are Type 1 diabetics out there who are grandmothers. I can totally relate to that.
But when you finish the sentence with “Well, she has Type 2,” and start to tell me how she manages with pills” and “just has to diet,” let's not compare.
5. "Shouldn't you have this figured out by now?"
No. I wish diabetes was that easy. It's like trying to figure out a Rubik's cube every day. Then, something changes, and I have to start all over again.
I can never perfect my diabetes. I constantly need to make adjustments. All I can do is try to manage my diabetes to the best of my ability with proper diet, insulin and exercise.
6. "Can you have kids? Will they get diabetes?"
Yes, you can have children if you have diabetes. You're considered to be at a high risk, but with proper control before and during the pregnancy, you're less likely to have complications.
Statistics show that the odds of your children getting Type 1 diabetes may be greater. But on the other hand, there are plenty of cases where the diagnosis didn't run in the family. So, who's to say?
7. "My blood sugar is low. Does that mean I need insulin?"
Absolutely not. That would be life-threatening in this situation. When my blood sugar is low, I need energy from my food in order to be able to function normally.
8. "What's your blood sugar level? Is that good or bad?"
Honestly, I really can't answer this one. I'm constantly aiming for the perfect blood sugar number.
Trying to keep my blood sugar in a good range is like walking a tightrope and hoping not to fall. I live in a different normal of what's "good or bad" with my blood sugar, especially when compared to non-diabetics.
I have to maintain this control while still being able to function every day.
9. "Let me give you some advice."
Are you a diabetic? Are you a physician? If not, just please stop.
Just because you can talk the talk, that doesn't mean you can walk the walk.
10. "It could be worse."
Of course it could be. I'm thankful I have a disease that can be managed. I'm grateful I can still live a long life.
But please don't make light of the struggle I go through on a daily basis. It's not the best situation, but I'm making the most of it.
11. "I heard there's a cure."
There is no cure. However, there continues to be new research conducted in order to find a cure.
Currently, there are future prospects. But all we can do right now is keep fighting and praying for it in the near future.
This post originally appeared on the blog, The Diabetic Journey.