How to practise Diabetes ‘Awareness’

…and it’s probably not the way you think.

I don’t think I’ve ever had a chance to not be aware of my Type 1 Diabetes.

Hated it? Yes. 

Cried about it? Too many times to count. 

Wished I could just…Yes. More times than I’d be okay admitting. 

My life is spent in a state of constant hyper-awareness, thanks to an autoimmune disease which changes course daily. From calculating insulin dosages, to making a million decisions about what to eat, when to eat, how long of a walk I can take, which alarms to set in the night so I can wake up and have a snack so that I don’t get carried away by the sandman on an unexpected wave of hypoglycemia

I can never forget about it, not even for a second. 

And then November rolls around, and suddenly everyone is an expert on Diabetes. I can name a thousand bushes that will ‘surely’ cure me (and trust me I’ve tried), and by any stretch of the imagination, I should be without limbs by now – given the number of grandparents whose diabetes had taken their extremities away.  


Yes, I am aware that November is Diabetes Awareness Month, and while non-diabetics get to go back to not being aware of diabetes in December, people like me will still have to be aware – especially when Christmas dinner rolls around because I FREAKING LOVE MAC AND CHEESE.

Now, I know that there isn’t usually any ill-will when persons joke about ‘catching diabetes’ from eating something, or when they ask me (in very concerned tones) if I’m on drugs or ‘have a nerves problem’ when they see me trembling and sweating in a corner. I also know that many people don’t know (or understand) the different types of Diabetes – except for what they heard their grandparents had. 

So, here’s a few suggestions for how you can practise Diabetes Awareness this month – and you know, maybe after that too…

  1. Understand that different people have different Diabetes. I have Type 1 – which is an autoimmune disease, and I am insulin-dependent. This condition is hereditary, and I’ve had it since I was 15 years old. No, I did not get it from eating too much sugar, but yes, eating a lot of sugar would not be helpful to my case at all.
  • If you see me trembling in a corner washed in cold sweat, please do not take away my soda or offer me insulin. In fact, grab me a juice box if you can so that I can regulate my blood sugar without spiking too high.
  • Find something else to talk about other than losing hands and feet. I’m already hyper-aware of the possibilities that exist if I don’t manage my Diabetes effectively, and I surely don’t need graphic reminders. I promise, I AM AWARE.
  • Delete the phrase about ‘catching diabetes’ from your mouth, every time you’re about to put something sweet inside it. It’s insensitive. I already grudge you slightly for being able to eat cake and ice cream without consequence, I don’t need to want fight you for trivialising my condition too. 
  • Please do not – I beg of you – assume I want cinnamon-flavoured things. I only like cinnamon when it’s a delicious roll – with frosting. 

Most importantly, rest your assumptions aside and ask me whatever you want to know. When it comes to Type 1 Diabetes, I am an open book, and open door, I will let you right in and give you a guided tour. 

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