Saturday, March 29, 2014

Weekend Real Talk: Diabetes

Hey, guys.

I know this is a cooking and food blog, and I know this post has little to do with food, but could you bare with me for a post, and read about something that is very close to me?  You might learn something!

Please?  There's a picture of my cat involved!

Good.  Thanks for sticking around.  (Even if it is just for the cat.)

As you may or may not know, I have Type 1 diabetes.  A lot of people don't really know what that is, not really.  Most people have heard of diabetes, but I'm going to go ahead and guess that if you don't know someone with Type 1, or if you don't have it yourself, when you think of the word "diabetes," you're probably thinking of Type 2 diabetes.

I'm not here to explain the difference between the two (although if you have questions, I really do love answering those questions from people who know that they don't know, and they want to educate themselves.  I also wrote a post for a website back in 2012 about living with diabetes, and the ignorant things people sometimes say to me about it, and if you're interested, it's here.)

That's not the point of this post, though.

There's a blog I follow, and the writer did a post about sweets on Thursday.  The post started off like this, copy-pasted exactly:

"I have a sweet tooth, a really big sweet tooth.  If I went to the doctor and he told me I was diabetic, I would scream.  And my expression would be like this.
Can I live without sweets, yes I can.  Do I want to live without sweets, absolutely not?"
 I don't know what this person's expression would be like, because they didn't include a picture or anything, but I assume the intent was that the expression would be something like this:

Which, incidentally, was my face after reading that intro.

The post, if you wondered, was a list of the blogger's favorite sweets.  Cool.

But I have had it, absolutely had it with people using diabetes as either a punchline or as a Worst Case Scenario.

If you've followed this blog for any period of time, you know I don't shy away from sweets or carbs.  I love them.  I, too, have a monumental sweet tooth.

I've been a Type 1 diabetic for almost 25 years, and for those 25 years, I've been eating. . .pretty much what I feel like eating.

There's a caveat here.  Would my blood sugar levels be under tighter control if I completely gave up carbs and sweets, and all those lovely things?  Absolutely, it would.  My point is, though, there's nothing saying I can't have these things.  There's no Diabetes Rule saying, "Once you're diagnosed as diabetic, you can no longer eat ANY SWEETS EVER AGAIN."  That's simply not true.

It's one of those Diabetes Myths that are floating around.  It's along the same lines as "If you eat that, you'll get diabetes."  Come on, people.

Diabetes, Type 1 or Type 2 or gestational or LADA or whatever, is a serious disease.  Every type of diabetes is different, but why would any of them give you a license to mock it or say "At least I don't have that!"?

If you want to know, my experience with Type 1 sometimes borders on the terrifying.  There are days when my blood sugar has been so out of wack and crazy that literally the last thing that crosses my mind when I go to sleep is, "I hope I wake up in the morning."  That's not funny.  No part of that is funny.

I actually did leave a comment for this blogger, letting them know that their use of diabetes as a Worst Case Scenario was not only vaguely offensive, but also wildly incorrect.

The blog entry makes light of something serious.  I can't really even begin to convey to you guys how it makes me feel when I see misinformation being blatantly spread like that.  Diabetes doesn't mean you can't eat sugar, just like the cause of Type 2 diabetes isn't always bad eating habits and lack of exercise.  (Sometimes it is, but not always.)

One other nugget of information I have is that, if you wonder, Type 1 diabetes is an Autoimmune disorder, which, in a nutshell, means that when I was 4 years old, my body saw the insulin-making cells in my pancreas and, for whatever reason, launched an attack on them, killing them off and making them not useful in the least.  That's Type 1.

I didn't make this post to shame anyone or to whine or to do anything like that.  I just want people to understand that diabetes. of any type, is not a Worst Case Scenario, and it should never, ever be used as a punchline.  Diabetes seems to be the only other disease besides AIDS that, for some reason, people think it's OK to joke about.  It's not.  It's also not the Worst Thing That Can Happen To You.

Please be aware of people around you, and if you don't know how something works, or what it's like, or anything like that, don't let your ignorance show.  Ask questions.  Do some research.  Maybe you'll come across someone some day that you can either share that information with, or that you can use your knowledge to have an intelligent conversation with.

Thanks for listening, everyone.  And I'll be back with more deliciousness on Monday.  Maybe it'll even be something with carbs.

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