Tag Archives: diabetes myths

Diabetes Blog Week 2012, What You Should Know About Diabetes

Today let’s borrow a topic from a #dsma chat held last September.  The tweet asked “What is one thing you would tell someone that doesn’t have diabetes about living with diabetes?”.  Let’s do a little advocating and post what we wish people knew about diabetes.  Have more than one thing you wish people knew?  Go ahead and tell us everything.

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I’m about to leave for the DiabetesSisters Conference and have spent all morning getting things ready and trying to get my two year olds who have never been without at least one of their parents to understand that mommy and daddy will be back in a few days, “we will be back, we promise”.   I can’t say I’m not nervous about this…good luck with em’ Mom and Dad, Ana and Gabriel!

Anyway, so I didn’t have a lot of time for today’s post but I do have something I want to say to the world about diabetes:

You may think you know a lot about diabetes.  You may think you know the truth about diabetes.  You may think your grandmother’s diabetes is like my diabetes.

This is the worst thing you can do to us people with diabetes.

What we want is for you to understand that diabetes is wildly complex, varies very much between person to person, and therefore you can never know all there is to know about it.  And what you think you know about a person’s diabetes is probably not accurate.

So just be humble and cautious and open to a person with diabetes telling you what their diabetes really is to them.

Then you’ll know.

Sincerely,

A girl with type 1 diabetes.

The Pump Myth

courtesy of Graur Codrin

When we say that an insulin pump provides better control, I think we should think about that statement.  Are we telling others who don’t have a pump that they would have tighter control with one?  Pretty much, right?  That’s not necessarily true though, is it?  If it were, I’d be on a pump according to my A1c and standard deviation results.  And in the past while I was on a pump, it would not have made sense to say I was on a pump.

It’s one thing to say that “For me, an insulin pump provides better control”  because then you’re talking about your own experience.  It is my hope that people on pumps everywhere will realize that many people are achieving very tight control without a pump and therefore it’s more helpful to stay away from comments like, “An insulin pump provides better control”.  Do you know what I mean?  It’s a general statement that might give someone without a pump the wrong impression about what is possible in their own lives.  I’m all for everyone having access to a pump, I wish everyone could at least have the chance to try it out, but what if someone doesn’t have access to one?  We should avoid giving them the idea that their multiple daily injections (MDI) are not enough.  If that is all they can get right now, don’t we want them to feel empowered to make MDI work?  For their own well being?

In some cases if someone can only get access to the older, slower insulin, then it still serves them better in the meantime if they believe that with a disciplined schedule, they can achieve good glucose management.  Yes, they deserve the opportunity for the flexibility a pump can give but if they don’t have access to that opportunity, isn’t it best they feel empowered to do what they need to do for their health?  And flexibility or no flexibility, I still think better glucose is more valuable-but maybe that’s because I’ve felt what unmanaged blood sugars can do.  I also endured the rigorous eating, snacking, sleeping, and waking schedule of R and N insulin of the past and in the end it wasn’t as bad as the unmanaged blood sugars.  I say this because of the complications that arise from high blood sugars.

A pump doesn’t provide better control or worse control anyway, it’s really up to the user.  Same goes for syringes and vials of insulin.

Does the pump add convenience in particular scenarios?  Totally!  Do syringes or pens?  I’d say so.

An unfortunate side effect of all this is people giving me pity or assuming I’m poor because they learn I don’t use a pump.  Or they assume I don’t use one because I’ve never tried it and fallen in love with it.  I get emails from very sweet people trying to convince me to use a pump.  But I did use one for seven years and so I know the pros and cons. While on the pump I literally felt I would die if it was taken away from me.  Then I tried to be without it and realized that what made diabetes difficult was not the shots, it was the variable nature of blood sugars and that with or without a pump, I was still being challenged to control them.  And after five years of the best blood sugars I’ve ever experienced, a wedding, a honeymoon at the beach, and a twin pregnancy, I really don’t miss the pump at all.

So let’s be accurate and supportive of better control, however one achieves it, because a pump being synonymous with great diabetes management is another one of those myths circulating out there.  And it’s a harmful one.

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