Diabetes stigma is making the rounds again. There are a lot of people out there who are trying to change the way society looks at diabetics as a whole. That’s a good thing.
I have not experienced a lot of the stupid questions diabetics often get. No one has ever asked me if I got diabetes because I ate too much sugar. I guess they look at my ample curves and just assume it. No one has ever told me I am going to lose a limb or die of kidney failure. Again, I guess they look at me and assume.
I have never been asked to leave a restaurant for giving myself an injection at the table. I have gotten a lot of funny looks, though. I did, once, overhear a woman loudly suggest that a Mexican restaurant was not an ideal place for a diabetic to eat. I hadn’t even gotten my food at that point, so she had no idea what I had ordered. A little judgmental.
I wear my insulin pump’s infusion set on my arm a lot of the time and do not go out of my way to hide it. I often leave my tubing hanging out of my pockets simply because I am too lazy to tuck it in every time I use a restroom. I do not hide my diabetes. I do not discourage people from talking to me about my diabetes. People just don’t ask.
The only place I have ever, truly, felt discriminated against in any way because of my diabetes (besides the doctor’s office) is the Diabetes Online Community. A lot of people in the DOC feel persecuted because they have gotten strange questions from the public at large. And most of them are type 1s and they blame the type 2s for the stereotypes. I actually read an online post once that said type 2s have no idea what diabetes really is because all type 2s have to do is diet and exercise to get rid of their condition.
Gee, wouldn’t that be nice.
I’ve also read that type 2s have no real idea what it is like to have severe lows or to live with the reality of complications.
I know one type 2 who had her leg amputated after she tore a tendon in her heel. Tell her she does not know what it is like to live with the reality of complications.
And I have no words for the mothers and fathers of type 1s who think that there should be a whole new category for their child’s condition because lumping them in with type 2s and adult type 1s does not provide enough compassion for an already tragic situation.
I’ll admit, there are some type 2s out there who are oblivious to the reality of what a type 1 goes through on a daily basis. If I had a dime for every message board comment I have read in which a type 2 went into hysterics over a blood sugar reading of 150 I would be much better off than I am now. So I understand some of the frustration.
But I am not one of those type 2s. I am a type 2 on insulin with the same daily fights and the same daily concerns over complications as almost any type 1. But I am also the stereotype of the type 2 that the media keeps pushing on the American society. I am overweight. I am insulin resistant. Have you ever tried to lose weight while taking 100 unites of insulin a day? Easier said than done. But I can’t keep apologizing for who and what I am.
I am not perfect. I am not a poster child for type 1 diabetes. Never asked to be. All I have ever asked is to find a place where I fit in and can offer support as well as take it. I thought that was what the DOC was supposed to be. Apparently not.
So maybe before the DOC tackles society’s views of diabetes, they should learn to fight the stigma within their own community.