I have always been open about having diabetes. It was not something I was ever particularly ashamed of. That’s probably because diabetes runs in my family. My grandmother, mum and uncle have had diabetes all my life. I never knew any different than them checking blood sugars and injecting insulin. In some way this made accepting my diagnosis easier too. I had seen firsthand that you can live a full live with diabetes.
That’s why I am a bit surprised so many people still try to hide diabetes from the outside world. Even at work or school people are a bit ashamed of their diagnosis. I asked this question on my Instagram stories the other day and received a lot of answers and some DM’s explaining the choice to hide diabetes. In most cases shame and bad experiences have rooted this decision. It makes me sad to think people still find pleasure in making rude remarks concerning other ones illnesses. Or maybe it’s just they simply don’t know what they are talking about. I hope it is the latter.
I think being this open about it can only help reducing the stigma. I want to spread awareness! As you probably know already, I work with children with various disabilities. I hope, by being this open, I can also help them realize there is nothing wrong with being different or needing special care. I do too!
I choose to share my diagnosis openly for a couple of other reasons as well.
First, I think it’s just more convenient if I tell people straight away. That way I don’t have to repeat my story a zillion times. (I have to do that already with health care professionals, since there’s still a lot of unawareness around MODY!). Second, I find people are more understanding if I tell them I need a quick brake (to correct a high or low blood sugar) and I don’t feel the need to explain myself every single time.
Above all, it makes me feel safer in my workspace. If I would suffer a severe low, people would recognize it more quickly and be able to help me faster.
As for practical implications, I know I am fortunate to work in a setting with a strict routine. I start my day every day at the same time, have breaks and lunch at the same time, I can have dinner every day at the same time.. It’s a blessing for managing blood sugars! I am not saying this is a prerequisite for stable blood sugars, but it does come in handy :) I know when to do my prebolus and am confident enough to do this in front of my colleagues and clients. It helps they are used to a medical environment and are not afraid of needles!
I sincerely hope one day all people with diabetes will have the confidence to own their diagnosis and that there is much more awareness and knowledge about diabetes in the general population. Until then, I just keep spreading the word and raising awareness in my own way, one person at a time. Even if only a handful of people find my IG page or read this blog, I know I am contributing. And that’s all that counts.