7 Things Not to Say to Someone with Diabetes!

1.Should you be eating that? 

Unless I’m about to use arsenic instead of splenda in my coffee this is never ever appropriate.  Not only is it rude-it just displays you don’t know much about diabetes.  Type 1s just need to cover the food they eat with insulin , what we choose to eat is between us and our tastebuds. Do you really think you have the knowledge or experience let alone the right to question our food choices?

No such thing as forbidden fruit as long as you’ve got insulin.

2.How’s the Diabetes?

Still got it!     It has its ups and downs.      There just isn’t a sensible answer to this question. Diabetes just “is”.

3.Is that the bad kind of diabetes?

You’re implying there’s a good form of diabetes…seriously???

4.My Nanna went/lost… from diabetes.

Just stop right there, are you going to relate the loss of a limb or function because of diabetes?  You’re kidding right? Do you think that’s helpful? Those of us with diabetes are very well aware of the horror stories, we don’t want to be reminded of them every few minutes.  It doesn’t help to add “they didn’t take care of themselves” at the end of the tale-blaming people for the consequences of ill health is just cruel and in many cases untrue.

5.Why do you have diabetes?

If I knew that I’d be lining up for the Nobel prize in medicine.  Type 1 is an autoimmune condition and nobody knows for sure what triggers it but it is not linked to stuff like being overweight or being sedentary. Type 2 does appear to be influenced by lifestyle factors but nobody knows why some skinny, fit people still get type 2 and some obese people remain type 2 free. I don’t hear people ask why someone has cancer or MS, so why diabetes?

6.You can get off insulin/cure diabetes by …

No I really can’t.  Every day of my life since I was 1 year and 7 months old I have needed insulin to stay alive. No matter how little I eat or how much cinnamon/ochra or fenugreek I consume I will always need insulin to stay alive. Some type 2 people can get off insulin but not type 1s.  The death rate for people with type 1 before the discovery of insulin in the 1920s was 100% despite starvation diets. Do you really think that if there was a cure for type 1 parents would continue to inject their children multiple times a day, would get up in the early hours of the morning every day to check their child is still conscious and so much other stuff if the answer was out there.

7.You must be very important to wear a pager (pointing to my insulin pump )photoThis, said to me within minutes of being introduced  (and you can imagine the tone) is probably the most insultingly ridiculous thing that’s ever been said to me. So not only do you think I’m trying to impress people with my “importance” but I’m so pathetic I’d try to do so with a piece of 1980s technology. Yeah, well think it said more about him than it did me.

Do you have other tips for things not to say to people with diabetes? What’s been the stupidest diabetes related comment you’ve heard?  If you don’t have diabetes have you ever said this sort of thing (hopefully not number 7).

18 thoughts on “7 Things Not to Say to Someone with Diabetes!

  1. Well said Melinda. Some of the things that have been said to me are: “Do you like having needles?” (I forgave her because she was elderly, could have replied, Ï don’t like being dead either”); “Diabetics can lead a normal life” (hell no, my life has not been normal – whatever that is – since the day of diagnosis). It is a real roller-coaster, walk a mile in my shoes and see what you say about “normal”.
    Perhaps you should start another post about things that the medical profession say. One can forgive a certain amount of ignorance from the general public but from supposedly educated Health Care Professionals? Examples are, “Do you ever have hypos?” (GP), “If you had looked after yourself, you wouldn’t have complications” (Ophthalmologist), “You must be eating too much Maccas”, (GP in front of a trainee GP on placement).

    1. The level of ignorance is so under estimated, I wrote to Diabetes Australia and mentioned this, although the letter was mainly about their latest campaign, as usual NO reply, not even an acknowledgement of the email. What can we expect when our self proclaimed National body just cannot get a grip of how ignorant people can be.

    2. How can we expect the general public to be educated when these so called professionals, especially the ones who proclaim their own knowledge and even worse say they provide specialist education to professions, say or write some of the most alarmingly inaccurate and blatantly stupidest things. I have got to the stage where i am currently not engaging with anyone but my GP, just after 47 years of putting up with this i find it better for my overall wellbeing to avoid them, although i am in no way recommending this, just making a point: Do these HCP realise they are doing more harm then good?

  2. How about this one: I met up for a date, i made no attempt to conceal my pump but did not raise it as an issues,. After the meal and some very odd comments, he said: ” so what is this all about …………. well if you are not recording our conversation why are you wearing that device (my pump), appropriate to say i declined any further dates with him. hehe

    1. LOL, you should have looked really upset and say you didn’t know what to do now your cover as an ASIO operative had been blown.

      As for the ignorance, yes! Much of the ignorance & stigma around diabetes is exacerbated by diabetes organisations-not all but my state body in particular, grrr see my pervious posts 🙂

  3. LOL Mel – you have nailed it yet again! Those comments are verbatim what I get all the time…and, it hasn’t changed in my 40 years of T1D! Ahh! Sigh! x

  4. I have had type 2 for almost 13 years. Yes, my lifestyle has contributed to it, but I have such a strong family history on both sides, it probably would have happened anyway, just not as soon as it did. I have an aunt who has recently decided to be the food police for me. From over 500 miles away.

    1. Sorry you’ve got the long distance food police. Nobody puts their hand up for any form of diabetes, or complications everyone does the best they can. Sure in a statistical sense there are risk factors etc but nobody should take those risk factors and turn them into blame. All the best Jenn.

  5. While I do nto have diabetes, my stepsister has had type 1 since she was 5. It is no joke. She was in a coma for awhile and almost died. I can relate to much of this through seeing her struggles with others questioning her and trying to watch her food for her. When she was a child, it was necessary. However, an adult with diabetes, especially type 1, is all too aware of the repercussions of what can happen to them. It is sad how misinformed people are. Great points! While people make these remarks because they just don’t know any better, they don’t realize how painful and/or rude their comments really are for someone living with the disease. I wish you well with it. We have come a long way medically, but not far enough.

    1. Thanks Lisa. Unless you have personal experience (either yourself or a family member) then nobody can expect you to know much about diabetes, it’s the way people go about sharing their lack of knowledge and mistaking it for some sort of expertise that gets under your skin sometimes. Cheers.

  6. Well said, Mel. The ‘food nazis’ are my particular hate. I have divorced one relative because of this (and other nastiness). My other hate is ‘Oh, you’ve got sugar diabetes’. Puh-lease!

  7. I enjoyed the sarcasm here. I wrote a similar post on my blog about my job as a pharmacist. I think the thing that gets to you the most is that people don’t realize you are hearing these same lines over and over. It’s like they want to say something but don’t know what to say, so they just make a stupid joke. Only to you, it is just stupid, and not a joke.

  8. Wow, grow some thicker skin! People showing interest in what is different about you and why you have something attached to you, they should be shot! How dare they ask any questions about it, they should just know . . . Really? This is a perfect opportunity for us to educate the public correctly.

    1. T1D, I have no problem with anybody asking questions about my diabetes and in no way have I suggested that anybody should “just know” what an insulin pump is. I take issue with the colossal rudeness of somebody ridiculing me on the basis of their erroneous assumption about why I have a device attached to me, it’s an extremely rude and unkind thing to do. Had they acted as a reasonably socially competent human being and just asked “what is that?” as many other people have done, we could have had a perfectly pleasant conversation.

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