An Interview With A Type 1

The following are actual questions and comments I have been asked/given over the years, and the replies I have given.

Q1. Are you going to die?

A1. Everyone dies.  Diabetes is no longer a terminal disease. If you don’t take proper care of yourself, then, yes, diabetes will kill you; usually slowly and painfully.  But since the discovery of insulin and all the knowledge gained about diabetes, medical advances, and technological advances, diabetes no longer has to be terminal.  It is chronic (forever, no cure) but no longer has to be a death sentence.

Q2. I would never be able to poke myself with shots and finger pricks everyday.

A2. If you knew it was the only way to stay alive, you would quickly get used to it.  Shots and finger pricks come with the territory, and, by the way, they don’t hurt…well, sometimes there is a tiny bit of pain, but not all the time and it’s never bad or lasts very long.  It is a part of daily living with type 1, it’s how we stay alive and well; and it is a blessing, not a curse.

Q3. My so-and-so had type 2. He/she changed his/her diet and lost weight and it went away…

A3. Good for him/her, but if they really had type 2 then they aren’t cured, they just have it under great control.  Also, type 1 and type 2 are not the same thing.  They are both types of diabetes but that is where the similarities end.  Type 1 is very different from type 2, so different that I won’t take the hours needed right now to teach you the difference.  I’ll just say this: no matter what the type, 1 or 2, there is no cure.  And please, don’t ever compare a type 1 to a type 2.  Never.

Q4. So, you can’t eat sugar?  Wow, I’d die if I had to give up candy.

A4. Um, no. I CAN eat sugar, I just have to be very careful about it and make sure to take extra insulin to cover it.  And it’s not sweets per se that are the problem.  It’s actually all forms of carbohydrate.  Carbohydrates are found in many types of foods,not just sweets.  Diabetics must be aware of what is in our food, check our blood sugar often, and take the proper amount of insulin at the right times, based on our food, activities, and blood sugar levels, in order to keep our blood sugar from going too high or too low.

Q5. John had 32 candy bars.  He ate 28.  What does John have now?  Diabetes, John has diabetes.

A5.  You are a fucking idiot.  Sorry, but I get so mad when people are misinformed about the cause of diabetes, the differences between type 1 and type 2, and then go and make jokes about the lies.  Eating too many sweets does not cause diabetes, at all, ever.

Q6. You know insulin is toxic, right?

A6. Considering the alternative, I really don’t care.  But thanks for bringing it up.

Q7. I’d be so afraid of having a diabetic seizure.

A7. It’s called a severely low blood sugar or a hypoglycemic episode.  It can lead to seizure, but technically it is not itself a seizure. It is frightening and dangerous and I live everyday in worry that it can happen.  I’ve had many hypos in my life, and they’re not fun.  It happens, and all I can say is it’s best to take care of my diabetes and refuse to live in fear of what might, and probably will, happen.

Q8. If I got diabetes I’d never have problems.  It’s not that difficult.

A8. You have zero idea of what you are talking about.  No non-diabetic can ever even remotely understand what it is like to live all day, every day, with this disease. I hope if you ever develop diabetes that you are able to keep it under control.  But don’t ever make light of something you have never had to live with.  What you just said is a huge insult to those of us struggling everyday with something we never asked for and can never get rid of.

Q9. I’ll never get diabetes because I take care of myself.

A9. Diabetes doesn’t care about how well you take care of yourself.  Anyone can develop diabetes, no matter what.  It’s not something you bring upon yourself, it just happens. And thanks for insulting diabetics by assuming we caused this disease by not taking care of ourselves…

Q10. So, you can’t live a full life?

A10. What do you mean by that?  Yeah, there are some jobs a diabetic can’t have.  But 99% of the time there is nothing a diabetic can’t do…except make our own insulin.  We just have to plan ahead and sometimes do a bit more work and adjusting.  But we can do anything anyone else can do. And we can live just as long and full a life as anyone else.

Q11. If my kid developed diabetes I’d feel like a failure.  I don’t know what I’d do.

A11. Diabetes is not the parent’s fault. it’s no one’s fault.  It just happens. And I know exactly what you’d do if your kid developed diabetes, you’d take care of them.  It’s heartbreaking and frightening, but in the end every good parent does everything they have to do to ensure their kid is safe, happy, and healthy.  It’s a lot of work and stress, but you love your child and any amount of stress and adjustment is worth it to see them alive and smiling.

Q12. My grandpa died from diabetes.

A12.  I’m sorry for your loss.  Diabetes can kill, and it used to kill a lot more often than it does now days because we didn’t have the medical knowledge and resources we have today.

Q13. Are you going to lose limbs?

A13. It can happen.  I hope not.  I try to take care of myself and if I am successful then there is no reason I should have to lose any limbs.

Q14. Are you allowed to eat that?

A14. I’m eating, it aren’t I? Who made you the food police? A diabetic can eat whatever they want as long as they take enough insulin to cover it. It’s not always the most healthy route, but we need to be able to relax sometimes. So don’t jump down our throat if you see us eating a slice of pizza now and then.

Q15. Oh, my god!  I can’t believe you just shot up right in front of me!

A15. Oh, my god! I can’t believe you go out in public with that face!  For a diabetic taking shots is a normal and natural activity.  Most of us try to be considerate and understanding that not everyone does this activity.  But sometimes we just gotta do it and present company just needs to be the understanding and considerate ones once in a while.

Q16. Can I watch you check your blood and take your shot?

A16. Sure! I can even check your blood if you want.  I love curious people. And I love helping others learn about alternative lifestyles like mine (the diabetic lifestyle).

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Author: Tamra K. Garcia

Stephen King says to "Write what you know." I know diabetes, I know me; so this is what I write about.

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