This evening, as I was scrolling through my Facebook feed I saw the blue candle.
For those who do not know, within the diabetes community, when someone changes their profile picture to a blue candle; most of the time it means that someone else within the diabetes community has died. Depressing, right? I clicked on the comments and they were all talking of a young Scottish man who died from complications due to diabetes.
I don't know what they were exactly, or even how old he was. But what I do know, is what stood out. All I know is he was young and he had complications and now he isn't on this earth any more. And why is that? Oh right, yeah, because he had type one diabetes.
This is the same disease that people make a joke out of. The same disease that when you search it on instagram, countless pictures of cakes and sweets appear, and when you tell people you have it they ask "Did you eat too much sugar?" The same disease that people make stupid facebook memes out of, or the one where people joke about getting diabetes from eating a bit of ice cream- "No don't give me that you're going to make me get diabetes!" Well guess what? This pre-conceived, ignorant idea that people have in their heads about diabetes is number one, extremely offensive, not to mention ridiculous and number two, aggravating.
Thanks to the media diabetes looks like a joke.
Whenever people hear the word diabetes they think about the overweight American man on those TV adverts, or sugar. That's all there is to them. That's what diabetes is to the un-educated. None of them REALLY know. They have no idea what it's like to live with diabetes, the countless needles, sleepless nights, hospital visits, blood sugar fluctuations, and more are unbeknown to them and it's not fair on us because as well as living with the disease (which, no we did not get from eating too much sugar) we also spend time on social media and find ourselves feeling aggravated at the silly "jokes".
Then if you were to confront the offendor, all you will hear back is "Can't you take a joke" or "I was just kidding!" Yeah, you were "just kidding" because you can afford to. Of course, I find the humor in my diabetes, for example I find the Type One Diabetes Memes facebook page really funny...but that's only because they are relatable jokes. Jokes that we can all read and think "That is so me!" and we're allowed to do it because we all live with diabetes and understand one another, plus there are no "jokes" about eating too much sugar or being overweight. It's sort of like, siblings when they're mean to one another. They are "allowed" to do it to some extent because they are siblings but if anyone else does it to them that's where they draw the line.
I bet all of the people who make fun of diabetes on the internet won't know about the young man who died from diabetes today, nor will they know about the little child who will be crying in hospital having just been diagnosed, preparing for a life of needles, they won't know of the person sitting up in bed at 1am- feeling so grateful that they woke up during the night for that low blood sugar because what could have happened if they didn't doesn't bear thinking about, what about the person going blind because they struggled for years with diabetes? Or the parents feeling frazzled having chased their toddler around the house with a needle; the needle that will inject insulin to keep them alive.
They won't know.
So when we as diabetics, see these posts we feel as if it is our duty to tell them what diabetes really is.
Not a joke. That's what it is.
It's serious and sure, it may not be cancer and there are worse things in this world but never have I seen a joke made online about cancer, and I hope I never do. It's bad enough seeing them about diabetes.
If you do make jokes about diabetes, and you're reading this...take into consideration what it really is to be a diabetic and what diabetes really means. Because you have no idea.
It's not a joke.