Diabetes Week: Embracing questions about your diabetes

Diabetes Week represents an opportunity to help others to understand more about diabetes. I encourage those of you who are ready to, to embrace answering questions on diabetes.

Questions about your diabetes can sometimes feel intrusive for some of us but on the other side of things, they’re also a good chance to help people to better understand the condition we have.

In my 25 years’ experience of having type 1 diabetes, how I’ve viewed my diabetes has changed significantly.

When I was younger and using the hypodermic syringes, I was very shy about my diabetes. This continued into early adulthood. Insulin pens made things a little easier but I still wasn’t keen on being seen to be injecting or taking blood tests.

Once I joined a diabetes organisation all that shyness went away. I suppose it’s hard to be shy about something you’re so passionate about.

Our life is shaped by how we view it

The thing is that the change in my openness about my diabetes just came down to how I viewed my diabetes. People hadn’t changed. It’s not like all of a sudden people became friendlier, they always were friendly. The change came from within.

We all have it in us to be open about our diabetes. We can take pride in what we do to manage our diabetes. It’s a skill to manage diabetes, and to keep yourself kicking through years of it is a credit to yourself.

I’ve seen both sides of the coin. In my earlier days, I left my diabetes kit at home when going out because heaven forbid anyone sees me with my insulin pens. In my recent years (now a good decade) I’ve also been happily injecting myself in all sorts of public spaces. I’m no longer worried at all if anyone glances my way.

These days, I’m happy if someone notices me injecting or testing. If someone asks me what the sensor is on my arm, I find it great to let them know what it does. People are very interested and receptive.

I enjoy answering questions about what I’m doing when I’m testing or how often I inject. It gives me the chance to demystify diabetes for people and that way we have a better-informed public.

Opening up

If you’re shy about your diabetes or worried about what people think, be assured that it doesn’t have to be this way.

To help be more confident in what I might call ‘being diabetic in public’, it can help to get comfortable around people you’re close to and more familiar with. Get happy referencing your diabetes with your friends. Soon enough you’ll be happy talking to other groups about your diabetes.

Yes, the odd negative reaction may happen, but these are rare, and will soon get balanced out by much more positive reactions.

In my last decade of being very open about my diabetes, the response has been overwhelmingly positive. I’d struggle to think of a time when someone has reacted negatively.

This Diabetes Week, go out and live your diabetes life and if you help others to understand diabetes better, that’s a great thing for all of us.

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About the author

Benedict Jephcote

I have been researching and writing about diabetes for the best part of a decade. I have a passion for helping people with diabetes and championing their rights. Outside of diabetes, I have a love of music and seventeenth and eighteenth century history.

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