Monday, 23 December 2013

Annoying things people say to diabetics

As a type one diabetic, you will probably find yourself dealing with not just the diabetes, but also those who feel they have all the knowledge and expertise in the world about a disease they probably learnt about from a Wilford Brimley advert on TV where he talks about his "Diabeetus".

I've been asked a few silly questions, but beware; if you ask me a stupid question about diabetes you will probably get a science lesson on what it actually is. Here are some of the most annoying things you can say to a diabetic. 

"My Grandma had diabetes. She lost her leg and she died" 
Listen, I have no connection with your grandma. So it would probably be helpful if you left out the gory details. Telling a diabetic person, that your grandma who was also a diabetic lost her leg and died, is really comforting thank you, thank you very much. I appreciate it. Secondly, chances are your grandma was type two diabetic and not type one. 

"Oh Lord! You just ate some sugar. Are you ok? Don't die on me!" 
First things first, I am not allergic to sugar. I will not develop hives and my body will not spontaneously combust if I eat sweets, I just have to inject insulin (otherwise I may get very moody with high blood sugar and there may be a chance of combustion...) Besides, it's not just sugar I have to give insulin for, it's carbohydrates too, things like bread, pasta, potatoes etc.

"Can't you just control it with diet?" 
No. This one is more so when people confuse type one diabetes, with type two diabetes. Both are different. Type one diabetics need to inject insulin to live or we will die as our pancreases do not produce any insulin whatsoever. Type two diabetics just have insulin resistance, and take tablets- hence why most do not take insulin and their blood sugar can be helped by altering their diet.

"I couldn't inject myself" 
When it literally means life or death, I think you would be able to inject yourself just fine.

"Does that hurt?" 
Yes. It does hurt sometimes. Diabetics are not immune to pain, the only reason we don't make a fuss it because it's something we do every single day- I'm not saying I'm used to all of the needles, but I am to some becomes a routine and we do it because we have to.

"Did you eat too much sugar?" 
Type one diabetes is not caused by eating too much sugar! I can't stress that enough. It's an auto-immune disease- my immune system attacked my pancreas and now it no longer makes insulin. (Shout out to my immune system for being such a moody cow and shutting down my VITAL insulin-producing beta cells, really appreciate it) Type two diabetics, have insulin resistance and this is not always necessarily caused by a bad diet. Other factors for type two include old age and genetic predisposition.

"Eat cinnamon. I heard it cures diabetes!" 
You know what I heard? That it doesn't so stop.

"You can't eat that?"
UM. Yes I can. As a type one diabetic it does not mean that I have to restrict my diet. I can eat whatever I want as long as I give insulin for it. Maybe not something like a sugar coated ice-lolly drizzled with chocolate sauce and sprinkled with marshmallows- that may be an issue...even for a non-diabetic.

"I literally ate so much bad food today- I'm seriously going to give myself diabetes"
This is actually really offensive. A diabetic would look at you and think "What are you insinuating?!" It's just a really ignorant thing to say if I'm honest. And even if it is a "joke" it's not funny. We will never laugh at people who say things like that.

"Well at least it's not cancer!" 
Yes, at least it isn't cancer thank you for pointing that out to me- as if I didn't already know. But I wish people would STOP comparing diabetes to cancer. They do not compare. Both are serious given the circumstances but they are two completely different things. Both are hard in their own way. Obviously, we are all extremely grateful to have diabetes and not something like cancer. However, I still have diabetes and it is still serious and it is still potentially life-threatening no matter what you compare it to.

"Do you have the bad kind of diabetes?"
There is no bad kind. Just because type one diabetics take insulin and type two diabetics don't sometimes, does not mean that type one is "the bad kind". Type one and type two both have the same effect on the person and ok maybe type one diabetes requires more attention but diabetes is diabetes.

"You're diabetic? But you look fine?"
Darn. You mean my extra eye hasn't grown in along with my extra nostril? I'm probably not diabetic then...
Diabetes is also known as an invisible illness, just because you can't see it does not mean that it's not there.

Those are a few of the annoying things that people say to type one diabetics.
In the #DOC at times, we like to refer to some of these people as "Type Zero". I'll leave the definition below.


*Type zero: 
A person that does not have diabetes. Symptoms of Type Zero include vastly stupid questioning of people with Diabetes, inability to distinguish between Type 1 and  Type 2 Diabetes and making wild assumptions on what people with Diabetes can and can't do, or eat. Severe Type Zeros will often encounter sudden pain in the jaw area. This is caused by getting punched in the mouth by an offended person with Diabetes.

Typical Type Zero comment: "Oh, I know a diabetic. They have the bad kind." 

-Thanks Urban Dictionary!


  1. Well, it's funny how sometimes, non-patients tend to get more worried than the patients themselves. The wrong information they have can really be annoying, but I'm sure they meant well.

    Tim Crawford @

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