Everyone who lives with diabetes can tell stories about misunderstandings that have arisen over insulin injections, finger pricking or use of diabetes devices. And most can add tales of the frustrations of dealing with people who have totally ludicrous ideas about diabetes and its effects.
Help avoid the challenges and frustrations by planning in advance how you will respond when encountering people who may be new to the disease. We’ve gathered the top 10 things to tell people about diabetes.
Some of these ‘messages’ are most suitable for close friends or colleagues, while others are helpful for everyone you meet on a fairly regular basis. Use your discretion to pick the right messages for the people in your world.
1. Over 9 million Canadians live with diabetes or pre-diabetes. It is a chronic disease that requires careful management. For the most part, though, I can live a relatively normal life with diabetes, and don’t need to be coddled.
2. Blood glucose highs and lows can occur, and I may not always be in a condition to respond properly if this happens. It’s important that people close to me are able to recognize the symptoms and take the right action. Make sure family members, close friends and colleagues know where your glucose tablets are located.
3. I will sometimes need to check blood glucose levels and/or give myself insulin injections. This is not a big deal – please don’t look shocked or draw attention to it.If you are a student, be sure to tell school personnel about any diabetes supplies or devices that you will use. Students may find it helpful to read our article Back-to-school tips for people with diabetes.
4. Please respect my privacy and avoid telling everyone you meet about my diabetes. Leave the responsibility to me to talk to the people who might need to know.
5. Understand that I may graze on small snacks during the day. This is part of my diabetes management meal plan and helps me keep my blood glucose levels within target.
6. I appreciate your encouragement and support, but please don’t keep on at me all the time about my diabetes management. I am the person in control of my diabetes. No one else can do it, and nagging won’t help anyone. For more helpful tips on this topic, check out our article How to deal with the ‘diabetes police’.
7. If I need your involvement or extra support with my diabetes management, I promise that I will let you know.
8. Don’t look shocked if I occasionally have a small portion of a sugary food like cake. There are no ‘forbidden foods’ in my diabetes diet and I am sometimes able to allow for sugary or other high carb foods within my daily meal plan.
9. Don’t assume I can’t drink alcohol. Most people with diabetes are advised to follow the same recommendations for alcohol consumption as people without diabetes.
10. Please consider joining me in healthy lifestyle habits. Healthy eating and regular physical activity are good for everyone, and having a buddy on the journey makes everything more fun.