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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Education on Diabetic Stereotypes

Just before I was sent to the hospital and diagnosed with diabetes, I - like any seven-year-old who needed to read books for school - was starting to read The Baby-Sitter's Club.

Oh yeah, you have no idea where I'm going with this, right?

I love the Baby-Sitters Club novels, I do.  They were really fun to read and they're fun to look back on and laugh at because of how unrealistic they are.  But it's not just the scenarios they were in that were unrealistic.  But particular character; you probably don't even know who I'm talking about.  She was pretty minor.  But she had this disease...really no big deal.

Ok, ok, time to be (a bit more) serious.  For those of you without 90's roots, the BSC novels had a main character named Stacey,  who was the 'city girl' of the gang.  But, as we all know, Stacey was diabetic.  And - OMG, that's like the worst thing ever to be diagnosed with!  No sugar, no good food, having to take shots all day and survive off of chicken and bread!  How did you live!

When some of my classmates found out I had diabetes, a few of them assumed I was just like Stacey from the Baby-Sitters Club ( know; younger and not from NY).  I know they were just trying to be friendly about it, and I suppose I appreciate it on that level.  But on the other hand...ugh.

Thankfully, my teacher that year had a son who was diabetic, so she was able to straighten everybody in the class out.  While I was glad my third-grade nightmare was over, she warned me this would happen again.  And boy, was she right.

Half the time, I don't think people mean to ask such stereotypical questions; they honestly have no knowledge of the disease, and the media does little to show the difference between Type 1 and 2 diabetes.  And usually you don't mind answering these questions, especially if it saves another diabetic the trouble of answering them.  But going on to my 9th year of the disease, I will admit I'm getting less and less...descriptive when answering.  In fact, in my P.E. class this year, I was reminded just how annoying those questions were, as my conversations with a particular girl usually went like this;

Girl: Oh hey, what is that?
Me: Just my meter.  I'm diabetic.
Girl: Ooooh.  So what are you doing with it?
Me: ...Testing my blood sugar.  I'm pretty sure I'm low.
Girl: Is that good or bad?
Me: ...Bad.
Girl: Oh.  *pause* Can I watch you take your blood pressure?
Me: Blood sugar.  And sure...I guess *pricks finger*
Girl: Ahhhh!  I didn't know you were going to bleed!  Doesn't that hurt?

...Yeah.  Don't pretend that's never happened; you know they've asked!  And you've gotten annoyed!  So that leaves the question; what are you to do?

Firstly, like I said earlier, most of these people are not trying to be annoying.  They're genuinely curious what that cell-phone looking thing is and why that pen just made you bleed...they don't mean harm.  Now I know that doesn't make it less annoying, but I always try to remember it when people are asking me questions.  Usually I can get through it.

Now, this leads to another question, often asked by my peers and the occasional teacher; what are bad diabetic questions - because I don't want to make you upset.  Well...I don't think there are bad questions.  But there are dumbs ones I get tired of hearing.  And instead of listing them all out, I've turned to a more...reliable source; YouTube!

Remember a few months ago, when those "Sh*t *insert broad stereotype here* Say" were so popular?  Well don't think we got left out!  The following video is done by another diabetic, and contains every question that has ever made me want to punch a perfectly nice person in the face.  Not because they aren't nice, but because asking three or four of these in under a minute is really annoying.  Along with the 'Sh*t People Say to Diabetics' video, there is also another one, 'Sh*t Diabetics Say'.  And I'd be lying if I said I haven't uttered some of those phrases before.

Sh*t People Say to Diabetics:

Sh*t Diabetics Say: (Warning* - the video below contains mild swearing...but it's oh-so true.)

That about does it.  If there are any other stereotypical questions that have been left out, please feel free to vent to your fellow diabetics below.  Have a good week, everyone!

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