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[IP] punching non-diabetics

I found this article on an aussie website for young adults with diabetes. I
identified with it and, though it is long, thought it was worth sharing,. I
imagine the writer had heard, "Are you sure you can eat that?" for the
umpteenth time that day. Not advocating violence here, but...

Has anyone else had an Insatiable Urge to Punch a Non-Diabetic? 
Kate McCluskey

I've been fighting the urge a lot lately.  Why?  Well, it all stems from a
big word beginning with i: IGNORANCE.  I have come across so much ignorance
in relation to diabetes that I intend on spending a large percentage of my
salary (when I finally graduate and start working) on full page ads in all
the major newspapers to dispel a few myths about diabetes. 

I'm sure that I'm not alone in my annoyance here.  We've all heard the one
about eating too much sugar as children.  My physical education teacher was
the first one to come up with this gem two days after I was diagnosed.  That
really helped my parents to deal with the guilt they were feeling at the
time.  Guilt they knew had no basis, but which ate at them regardless. 
Another bright gentlemen stated outright that diabetics could not use
depilatory wax due to the sugar content: I don't know about you, but I
generally don't eat it!  And I lost count early on of the people who asked
me if I should or shouldn't be doing this or eating that.  Of course, me
being the person who would suffer the consequences of getting ill needed
them to remind me of what is and isn't conducive to good health. 

We've all seen news stories about diabetes.  The type that begin with shots
of fried bacon and eggs, and that zoom in on excessively-rounded buttocks
and some poor innocent wolfing down McDonalds.  While we know that this
information is based on type 2 diabetes rather than type 1, unfortunately
there is usually no differentiation between the two types. Therefore the
ignorance continues to breed and non-diabetics continue to risk their own
personal safety by questioning our dietary habits as youngsters.  I often
ask people that if all diabetes is caused by poor diet, then how exactly
does an infant fed only breast milk manage to establish such poor dietary
habits to induce diabetes?  Whilst they asked about my diet with such
confidence (as comes with knowing you're right), my question is often met
with puzzled looks and responses of 'Oh, I hadn't thought of that.' 

Recently, while shopping with a friend, I tested my blood sugar. Without
even looking up, she said 'Have you been naughty, Kate.'  I've known this
girl for 14 years and I'm not usually the aggressive type, but I could have
punched her.  Of course this 'aggression' may have been exacerbated by the
fact I was having a hypo!  Such ignorance and 'blaming' are common place. 
This demonstrated to me exactly how little my friend understood even the
physiological basics of diabetes, let alone the emotional baggage that comes
with it. 

I'm not one for complaining about diabetes or feeling sorry for myself, but
there is no denying that diabetes can be a huge burden at times, emotionally
and physically.  It seems that my friends don't realise this.  They were all
there when I was diagnosed, offering support.  I seem to cope well, quickly
learning to deal with life with diabetes and becoming self-sufficient in
regards to dealing with my problems.  I think this has now given my friends
a false sense of the ease of life with diabetes. Because I seem to cope so
well, they assume that it's easy and that if anything happens to go wrong,
it must be a failure on my part.  After all, how hard can it be to mimic the
actions of the human body that have taken many thousands of years of
evolution to fine tune? 

This is one of the hardest misconceptions to deal with.  Anyone with
diabetes knows that it is far from a text book disease and that things can
change from day to day.  Therefore, things can and do go wrong.  And to
blame ourselves for each thing that doesn't go as planned is to take the
fast track to mental breakdown!  Yet, we sometimes do blame ourselves, and
evidently so do other people.  We don't need that additional pressure or
blame.  But rarely are such comments made with malice, those that make them
are simply ignorant to the impact they may have. 

Hypoglycaemia is another misunderstood concept.  Hypos seem to come only at
the most inappropriate times.  We're never hypoglycaemic when we're at home
with nothing better to do.  No, we have them at work, at uni, when we're out
with friends.  I have had some of the strangest responses when I've had
hypos.  Some people panic that I'm going to collapse and start convulsing at
their feet, while others expect me to continue on with what I'm doing,
whether it be brandishing a scalpel towards some poor toad or giving a
speech.  Wouldn't it be nice to sit down and explain in fine detail exactly
what is happening to you and how it is affecting you. Unfortunately, through
the sweat, shaking and slurring, I never seem to make the impression I'd
hoped for.  I therefore come across as some bumbling mess, with my ignorant
counterpart no wiser. 

While I have often tried to dispel some of the common myths, I have found
that I don't have too receptive an audience.  Diabetes is a complicated
disease.  This, coupled with the fact that no one likes to hear that they're
wrong, makes destroying ignorance an uphill battle.  Even if you can manage
to get someone to listen to your explanation, many have well and truly
switched off by the time you've finished.  And when you get the response,
'Oh, right', you know that they're about to walk off with the very same
opinion as they began with.  Ignorance is far easier than learning and
understanding the facts. 

What's my point: I'm sick of misinformed (or even uninformed) people
arrogantly airing their opinions about diabetes.  There are two options for
such people: 

1.    Go out and research the facts: this is about as likely to happen as my
pancreas spontaneously resuming insulin production.  OR 
2.    Stop airing their opinions so freely: the far easier option and one
which may slow the progression of senseless, ignorant views about diabetes. 

Amy B. Anderson

Apple Product Professional

Justice and Peace for All Americans
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