Educating those around you when you have diabetes...
I've mentioned my partner, R, before who's been a Type 1 diabetic for over 44 years. His diabetic journey hasn't always been smooth sailing and the diabetic world has changed so much in this time.
He's gone from managing his diabetes with standard injections of fast acting insulin with each meal and one 24 slow release injection at bedtime to the curret technologically advanced insulin pump. The pump delivers insulin steadily every few seconds and is now the go to for anyone being diagnosed. These advancements are amazing, but what about the social side of things and helping to educate those who interact with diabetics on a regular basis and actually have no clue that they can help to make the life of a diabetic a little bit easier?
This is such an incredible question, as a friend recently shared that her daughter - a diabetic for less than 2 years so she's still learning to manage her high and low blood sugars - has been having a tough time of it. When she is at work and is warned by her CGM (continuous glucose monitoring) device that her sugar is heading down and going fast, she asks her boss at work if she can take a break. More often than not, she's told no, she can take her break when it's scheduled and not before. Granted the communication of a 20 year old may not be the best, but if her boss knew the medical situation she was in, I have no doubt, they would be supportive and allow her to take 5, get some apple juice and tend to her low blood sugar. My friend had to stop herself from marching into her daughter's work to 'fix things' and although that makes total sense, this is a learning opportunity. We do need to allow kids/teens/adults to manage themselves, even in baby steps, so they can work out a better situation next time and change how they cope. Being independent and managing on one's own is the ideal. At the same time, educating those around them is dire and the only way to bring on change.
My partner R's suggestion is to get a letter from your doctor to advise that you, as a Type 1 diabetic require life saving insulin at various times when your blood sugar is low and request that you be able to manage this as and when appropriate. This letter should be shown to employers, teachers, coaches, etc from the start (once they are in a new environment) to educate those around them to the seriousness of the situation. If there is any push back, necessary action should be taken. This is the first step in managing how you live your life and taking control yourself.
Educating others around you about Type 1 diabetes will be an ongoing exercise throughout your life. This make definitely make life easier and remove the stigma that the cause of Type 1 is related to eating too many sugary products (note this is more about Type 2 diabetes). Type 1 diabetes is generally caused by genetics or a trigger in the environment (such as a virus or traumatic experience). Diet and lifestyle habits do not cause Type 1 diabetes... but that's for a later blog.