Sunday, 24 February 2013

"But You Don't Look Diabetic..."

Spot the non-diabetic, anyone?!
This is something I hear a lot...doesn't mean it gets any less annoying though! Diabetes is one of those things that the world only sees when I check my blood sugar or do an insulin injection. It's invisible: there are no physical markers that say to the world "I have diabetes!" But when people learn that I am diabetic and then say to me "but you don't look diabetic..." I always find myself wondering what they expect someone with diabetes to look like. So, for the first time ever, I asked! I was curious to know what a diabetic should apparently 'look like'! The response I received was something along the lines of "well you're not old, and you're not fat." 

Deep breaths, count to ten, regret asking the question, you know the drill.

I'm not old and I'm not fat, therefore I don't look like I have diabetes. Is that a compliment?! I swear diabetes is a subject covered in GCSE Biology class, and you're taught that it's autoimmune and stuff like that. I mean, don't get me wrong, I was no expert in diabetes prior to my diagnosis (and I'm still no expert), but I knew it didn't just occur in old people and those that are overweight. Ok, GCSE Biology was some years ago, but even so! 

There's a lot of emphasis put on type 2 diabetes, because of it's link with both age and weight. And it's good that people know about type 2, as it's something that, with some good, healthy lifestyle choices, you can reduce your risk of developping. But that also means that there is a lack of education and awareness when it comes to type 1, as well as the other type of diabetes such as type 1.5; in the eyes of the general public we all get "grouped together". There have been numerous times when someone has found out that I am diabetic and they've turned round and said "my [insert relative here] has diabetes can just take a tablet once a day and you're fine..." (If only it were that simple!) Another comment I had recently was "you have to do that because you parents gave you too much sugar when you were younger!" Safe to say I was not amused with that comment! Not only was there a lack of understanding about what type 1 diabetes is, but it was also just plain rude!  

But in the words of a friend, I'm going to keep calm, smile at their ignorance and continue raising awareness.

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