What NOT to Say to a Type 1 Diabetic

Indeed, I realize I’m opening the door pretty wide here in setting myself up for hearing each and every one of these annoying comments, especially from my father-in-law who just loves to tease.  I will have to start loading up my arsenal of comebacks.

I’ve said it before, I really do try to take things in stride.  I think you have to when you live with something that can so easily steal your joy.  I try to see the humor in things and don’t get offended by every little diabetic joke.  Stop me if you’ve heard this one.  Jake has 50 snickers bars, he eats 45, what does he have now?  He has diabetes.  If you are a diabetic, you have every right to be offended.  I just personally am not.  It’s a joke, and no, Jake doesn’t have diabetes now, at least not Type 1.

When I refer to the things NOT to say to a T1D, it’s not about jokes or getting a laugh.  I can certainly take a joke about myself and have in fact made fun of myself because, let’s face it, I can be super clumsy and just do dumb stuff that’s hard not to laugh about.  What I am referring to is the pure ignorance that people display when they ask questions that make you want to crawl out of your skin.  Don’t get me wrong, I will stop and chat with anyone who genuinely wants to learn more about T1D or has a sincere question about what I am doing or eating.  When someone says, “You’re not supposed to eat sugar,” I want to rip the eyeballs right from my face.  Now if that same someone asks, “Can you please clarify this for me, I always thought diabetics were not supposed to eat sugar,” I am happy to educate you and answer any questions you have.

I do realize that some people don’t know the difference between T1D and T2D.  That said, I can tell you it’s hard to maintain patience when people say that diabetes is something you did to yourself.   Type 1 diabetes is NEVER caused by something you did.  Nobody who has Type 1 could have prevented it.  It happens when a genetic or environmental factor triggers the immune system to attack the pancreatic beta cells that produce insulin.  There is no cure.  There is no exercising it away.  So, for your entertainment folks, here are some examples of those who really just don’t know there are different kinds of diabetes or simply have no tact:

  • Oh, you have the bad diabetes, right?  Ummm, is there a good one?
  • You know you shouldn’t be eating that, right?  And why is that again?
  • If you eat a lot of cinnamon, it is a natural cure for diabetes.  Well, zippity do da, I’m cured!
  • You must have eaten the wrong foods as a kid.  Ate all the same stuff as the other kids whose pancreas’ didn’t stop working.
  • I was watching the Biggest Loser and the contestants didn’t have diabetes anymore after they started eating right and exercising.  Yea, Type 2, but thanks.
  • I saw a commercial for a medication you can take to keep your blood sugars controlled.  Yea, Type 2.  Again, thanks.
  • You’re not overweight, how can you have diabetes.  Just, wow.
  • How can you take shots?  I could never do that.  Take the shot or die, hmmm, that’s a tough one.
  • I bet Thanksgiving is your least favorite holiday since you can’t eat any of it.  Watch me.
  • Don’t you wish you could just eat whatever you want.  No, because I already do that.

Again, I can take a joke as good as the next gal, but when you come at me like you know more than me about MY disease, I have a slight issue with that.  It’s hard to believe just how many people were absent the day they taught tact at The Tact School of the Seriously Tactless.

What are some of the tactless questions you’ve been asked?

Well folks, my birthday tomorrow marks my 30th year of having diabetes.  I appreciate every single one of you who support me every day.  I have been blessed with the best family and friends, and thank God for all I have learned through the many trials associated with living with T1D.

Looking forward to my mama’s famous sugar-free mousse pie!


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