One of the things I’ve talked about regarding diabetes is that there are A LOT of acronyms and shorthand terms. I’m sure that’s the case with most chronic conditions. It’s like a secret language known only by those whose lives have been touched with diabetes. Terms like A1c, BG and DKA are common words in the diabetes dictionary. This time of year though, when there is food and large gatherings of people, there is a term many people with diabetes are using with frequency: Diabetes Police.
This is a term loosely defined as those people who most often mean well, but know little about diabetes beyond what is (inaccurately for the most part) portrayed in popular media. Therefore, they try to lend advice about what foods to eat, someone’s weight or just the latest news about cinnamon curing diabetes. While I assure you, most comments do truly come from a place of care and concern, it often leaves People With Diabetes at a loss for words.
We don’t expect people who don’t have diabetes in their life on a regular basis to know everything about our disease. Honestly, neither we, nor our doctors, know everything about our disease! So, know when we come to a party atmosphere, we come prepared with the knowledge we’ve gained after long periods of time of dealing with diabetes.
We know that we can have a second piece of pie because we took a bit too much insulin with dinner, but we’ll still need more insulin to cover all the carbs in said pie. We know that alcohol can affect our blood sugars in multiple ways. We know we put on a few pounds, but maybe the doctor recommended that. And what we most definitely know is that if cinnamon DID cure diabetes there would be a worldwide shortage of both.
So, if you want to ask how I’m feeling or how my health is? Thank you for your concern. I’m happy to discuss diabetes with you and answer questions you may have (most of the time. Remember a person is always more than their disease). You ask me if there’s a special dish you can make that I’ll be able to eat? Thank you for considering me in that way, it’s much appreciated, but know it’s not necessary.
Overall, just know that PWDs come into situations with an abundance of food possibly feeling anxious already. Diabetes is a precarious balance and it revolves so much around routines and schedules. Holiday meals throw all that out the window and add in a tremendous amount of foods that aren’t necessarily good for anyone to eat, let alone someone who needs to act as their own pancreas 24 hours a day. The combination of those things can, even with a lot of attention paid to carb counting and bolus calculating, wreak havoc on blood sugars for days. It’s on our minds an incredible amount of time.
Because he can say it so much better than I can, here’s a video Mike Lawson made me actually laugh out loud. I think it’s an accurate example of things people worry about when food and diabetes come together, whether they have the disease or not. And, if you want to talk to someone in your life with diabetes about the topic, here’s a list of questions to avoid written by Ginger Vieira. This is some diabetes humor, and it’s not meant to offend, of course. Just a way to get an inside look at life with diabetes, and maybe a little more knowledge.
Jess Buchanan grew up in Colchester, Vermont. She has been a Type 1 diabetic for 6 years. She enjoys cooking, reading, singing, dancing, working out and planning her 2014 wedding while playing with her pet bunny Grier.