Diabetes sucks. You can’t eat a lot of sweets. You have to prick your finger, which is not as much fun as fingering your prick. (Ahem)They might, yanno, chop off your leg if it starts rotting on you. (Always wanted a peg leg, though. It’d be a hit on International Talk Like a Pirate Day.) You might even go blind.
For some, like me, it’s manageable. Some have to shoot insulin every time they look at a pastry since their pancreas is basically just bogarting space below the liver. For those with diabetes that bad, life is an adventure. And not the good kind. However, there is one hazard of diabetes that even those with the mildest cases cannot avoid once it gets out that you pee urine sweeter than anything at Dairy Queen. What are they?
When people find out you have diabetes, no matter how mild, they freak the moment you have a donut. “Oh, noze! That’s pure sugar! You can’t have that!”
It’s understandable. Diabetes is, essentially, high blood sugar. So eating something coated in sugar, laced in sugar, and made up largely of sugar might make someone not schooled in the ways of diabetics a little nervous.
But it goes beyond that. Every health nut at work or family gatherings will want to lecture you about carbs, about desserts, about alcohol. And, of course, we hear this all too often from some tub of lard shoving donuts into their maw at an alarming rate. I suspect they’re really hogging the donuts for themselves. The only problem is…
We already know. We take the pills. We do the shots. We’re the ones that have to take a piss every twenty minutes because our bodies can’t get rid of the sugar fast enough. My wife calls me out once in a while, but my wife and I vowed until death do us part. She’s not ready to part yet.
A donut once in a while will not hurt most of us. Some, like me, compensate by not drinking regular soda. I’d love a Pepsi Throwback, but until I get my blood sugar back down to not-so-alarming levels, I’ll content myself with scarfing the odd bear claw from the office donut box.
“Here. Have a donut.”
Yes, the same people who call you out for eating a donut think nothing of shoving a donut – or a cake or a slice of pie – at you, insisting that (See above) it won’t kill you.
So what’s the difference? When I eat a donut, I am eating the donut. I know what my blood sugar is (maybe). I know how I feel that day. I know how what I’ve eaten or will eat will affect me. You don’t.
Usually, the person who calls you out on eating the donut does so because they walked in on you in the break room. When someone who normally worries about a diabetic eating donuts/pie/cake/candy offers something sweet, it’s usually because they bring it in themselves. And then they get offended when you take a pass on it. “But I made this for everyone!”
So, let’s get this straight. It’s bad when I eat it myself, but when you dump two pounds of sugar into cheesecake yourself, it’s okay? Hmm…
Just as often, we get this in the bar. “Here, have another drink.” Alcohol is a weird thing for diabetics and non-diabetics alike. It’s just weird for all concerned. People get whacky about drinks as it is. But consider that, as a person consumes booze, their “Oh, I understand” reflex shifts more and more to their “Oh, come on! We’re all drinking!” reflex
“[Insert common illness here] in diabetics is common, you know.”
You know what I really get sick of hearing? I get sick. I hurt myself. I eat something that doesn’t agree with me. The first thing out of someone’s mouth is, “Well, you are diabetic.”
Really? No kidding! I thought that was just some really bad black tar heroin in those epipens. I thought the doctor was just kidding me because the pharmaceutical rep looked cute in a short skirt and he wanted the kickback. Thank you. Thank you for reminding me why I need a day job to keep insurance companies from eating half my income.
Yes, we are more prone to infections. Not only do we as humans like sugar, but bacteria love the stuff. If we get an infection, it’s like a protozoa trapped in a candy store. (I’ve had a protozoal infection, by the way. The cure was worse than the bug.) But consider how many people get the flu each year. Most of them are healthy with little or no chronic health issues. We get the flu because someone breathed on us, the same as anyone else. If my appendix ruptures, it likely had nothing to do with diabetes. If I stub my toe (and in one case, I broke it), guess what? Being a clod has nothing to do with diabetes. So remember, even though we have diabetes, we also have the same problems you do for exactly the same reasons.
“You shouldn’t joke about that.”
Let’s get something straight. Those of us diagnosed with diabetes know what’s in store for us if we don’t take care of ourselves. We know we can go blind or lose a limb or have a stroke or… See how shitty those options are? What’s our best defense?
What seems to offend people the most about diabetes? Our humor. I once made a joke about Mike Bloomberg’s moronic ban on sugary drinks over 16 ounces. I commented on Facebook that I wanted to go to New York, buy a two-liter of Coke, and drink the whole thing on the steps of Gracie Mansion and dare him to arrest me. I said, “It’d be worth the diabetic coma.” And make no mistake. That much pure corn syrup would make me extremely sick.
I got chewed out by someone for being insensitive. “I had a friend who died from diabetes.”
Your friend would tell you to lighten the hell up. I see this in other situations. When I did standup, another comic and I improved some banter back and forth. Eventually, he said, “So’s your mother.” My mom had died five years earlier, so I said, “She’s dead, asshole.” Not missing a beat, he made a joke about that not worth repeating here. The crowd loved it. A woman came up to me later and said I must be furious at that awful comedian for what he said about my mom. I said it’s a joke. We were comedians. That’s why they handed us microphones. The woman got offended all over again. I’d taken away her opportunity to go “There, there.”
It’s not that I don’t appreciate the sympathy. What I don’t appreciate is taking away the one tool I will take to my grave to deal with this disease. Telling me to be serious about it is like telling me not to use too much water when my house burns down.
“My father’s brother’s nephew’s cousin’s best friend’s former roommate tried…”
This one really annoys me. Insulin and glucophage and Januvia and a host of other drugs that have kept many of us from living a short life of dining on lettuce and water are a conspiracy by Big Pharma™. Instead, we should be taking [insert questionable supplement here, occasionally pimped by Dr. Oz]. Are you insane? The response is usually something like “But your doctor is in cahoots with Big Pharma™.”
I see. So you want me to take some unregulated snake oil that costs ten times more than the generic drug that, yanno, works because you know more than my doctor, who has ten years of schooling at Harvard, a residency at the Mayo Clinic, and at least a couple of decades dealing with sick people? So tell me. What is it you know that he doesn’t? How has your associates degree in book keeping from DeVry University given you a better insight?
“You should lose weight.”
Okay, seriously? You spot a woman riding her rascal through Walmart, her ample ass concealing most of it from sight, and you say nothing. Your coworker has to sit in a separate ZIP code from his keyboard because his belly is in the way, and you say nothing. If anyone says, “You can stand to lose a couple of pounds,” and you rightfully get offended. Even when it’s true.
But I mention I have diabetes, and I’m supposed to be touched that you care when you call me fat? First off, who the hell wants to hear that they’re fat? No one! And yet people seem to believe that, because people on My 600 Pound Life sent their diabetes into remission by dropping below 400 pounds, weight loss is the magic bullet for all diabetics.
If you have Type I diabetes, you could starve yourself until you have that svelte skeletal figure you always wanted, and you will still have diabetes. Type I means the pancreas has become little more than a cushion for the liver. No amount of weight loss will make Type I diabetes go away.
While it’s true Type II diabetes responds to weight, some Type II’s are thin. There are other causes to insulin resistance that have nothing to do with weight. Then there are diabetics like me, Type II’s who really can stand to lose a few pounds. Here’s a tip: We already know that. Our doctors remind us at every checkup.
Usually, we get this advice from the same person cramming their cake hole with those same donuts they tell us not to eat. Who could usually stand to lose a few pounds as well.