We have been asked lots of odd questions by well-meaning and kind people along our diabetes journey. It is such a misunderstood condition, one that has all sorts of myths surrounding it. So I thought I would share a few and dispel those myths.
- Can you walk up the stairs without getting out of breath? I mean seriously? A GP once asked Jack that question when invited into our local surgery for a review. You won’t be surprised to know that after that question we only ever see Jacks wonderful diabetes team for reviews now. And he has NEVER seen that GP since.
- Can you have sweets? Yes Jack can eat exactly what he wants, within reason of course. The key is to maintain a healthy diet. But as long as he administers an injection and works out his carbs he can eat it.
- Do you have to eat diabetic chocolate? Yes he can eat it, but can also eat normal chocolate, he has to inject for both so it really doesn’t matter.
- Do you need to rest often? Jack is so mega active and sporty, as long as he has energy drinks he can do sport all day long. In fact there are many diabetic sports personalities and celebrities.
- Are you poorly? As long as Jack manages his condition he will lead a full healthy life. In fact a man messaged me from the States recently to tell me he was diagnosed a 2 years old, he is now 84 and has had a full active and healthy life. Jack is healthier than a lot of non diabetic people I know.
- Is Diabetes caused by eating too much sugar? No, it is caused when the pancreas stops producing insulin. This is the hormone that helps to body change sugar to energy. It is generally caused by an incident or virus. We think Jacks was brought on by a bad case of pneumonia.
- Diabetes is not that serious is it? Wrong, it is a very dangerous and serious condition that takes lots of hard work to control. Saying this if correct control is maintained a diabetic person can live as healthy as the next.
- Low sugar is not dangerous! Wrong, if a diabetic person thinks their sugar is low ask then to sit down, get them to test their sugar levels. If they are low they must take glucose or eat. Failure to do this can result in a coma.
- Well high sugar must be ok then? Wrong again, high sugar causes your body to produce keytones. This is very dangerous as your body then thinks it is starving and slowly starts to eat its own body fat.
- How serious is it? Have you just got mild diabetes? I often get asked this by people who are generally being supportive. But no there is just diabetes, 4 injections of insulin a day. Some people unfortunately struggle to manage it, some are incredibly ill; sometimes through no fault of their own. lots of things affect it such as stress, growing, sport, inactivity, illness and many other factors. But type 1 diabetes is type 1 diabetes.
But do you know what? I always look at my mostly healthy teen, who just needs a drug to help his body manage sugar in his system, and think his diagnosis could have been a million times worse.
Yes he has to look after himself a lot more than other teens. Yes we always have that risk hanging over us, but we know the risk is there. Its easier to deal with something you know isn’t it? Yes I would rather him not have it, but that never been a choice, we have to deal with it in a positive way. It’s the best chance he has of long-term health.
But we are very proud of our brave boy who at 10 took it on the chin, dealt with it, has never once asked why me? or moaned.