Diabetes — the STIGMA

If there is one thing which really bothers me about Diabetes (and surprisingly this is not the disease itself) is the STIGMA surrounding the word and the reaction of many people who have found out about my condition.   I’ve never wanted to be considered in the least  disabled nor have I ever felt in the least disabled by this disease.   I don’t think DIABETES  should ever be thought of   or taken as a disability.  The second you believe you’re disabled – well then are!    The way I’ve learned to  look at  my diabetes  is  that SOMEONE  ABOVE  was telling me it’s time for me to get healthier and in better shape  than I’ ever would have dreamed (or tried to be) if I wouldn’t have gotten the disease.  The word DIABETES however might cause a lot of people  to pity you or think you really are disabled or can’t do things other people do like  compete in strenuous sports or physical activities.  Diabetics definitely need to be careful but no diabetic needs to live the STIGMA.    The expression on some peoples faces   after telling them you’re  a diabetic  is many times one of queasiness.  Then just tell them how many injections a day you take  and  that you prick your fingers (to test your blood sugar)  a dozen times  a day and  then you’ll really see the meaning of going into SHOCK.   No diabetic who has his disease under control will ever go into DIABETIC SHOCK but the type of  DIABETIC SHOCK non-diabetics get when you tell them about your diabetes is definitely real.  

One of   things I decided from the onset that  I found out I was diabetic (in my teens)  was that I wasn’t going to let the STIGMA of diabetes limit me physically. Diabetes (especially type-1) might be life sentence but it sure doesn’t have to be a death sentence – unless you let it become one.  I worked out and trained hard all of my life making fitness a top priority.  Like many athletes who have had to overcome obstacles I  let the disease motivate me into getting into better shape  than I probably ever would have been in if I hadn’t gotten the disease.  Sometimes I wonder if I didn’t get the diabetes just where  I’d  be today.  I’m  pretty sure my life wouldn’t have been nearly as fitness oriented as it has been nor would my diet have been nearly as healthy as it has been.  So despite all of it’s short comings and hardships – diabetes and it’s STIGMA’s have made me a stronger person both physically and  mentally.

Getting back to the STIGMA of diabetes –   there is no question that this disease is surrounded by a lot of FEAR.  I won’t go into a  discussion about all of these fears but  some of them are  founded and a lot  are not.  One of the things I did decide after I got the disease was that I wanted as few people as possible to know that I was a diabetic.  Throughout the years it was always a question of who I could trust with my STIGMATIC secret.   People I did trust  were SWORN to secrecy not to tell anybody that I had the disease.   Me and my parents  kept my disease   TOP SECRET except from  close relatives.   The same was true for FRIENDS – and  I would tell only  my closest friends and  people who had to know about the disease  like my doctors,  employers  and of course my wife.  As for my wife -I guess she would have found out anyway (sort of hard to hide all the injections and between thinking I’m a drug addict and knowing I was diabetic –  I think she preferred  the diabetes!! )

In conclusion to this  short post — I’m pretty sure that a lot of diabetics out there have felt  the STIGMA of this disease.   I definitely have been a LITTLE obsessed in the past to keep my  disease a secret.  The days of swearing people to secrecy or having them  take a secret OATH  (signed in BLOOD)    never to reveal my diabetes   are now “pretty much”  behind me.  That said I still don’t wear a sign around my neck “I am a Diabetic” although I DO always wear a “Medic Alert” necklace  and think that all diabetics should have one  (I wear mine under my shirt   but it’s always there just in case).    The truth is –  even though I still really want my privacy upheld  I realize that being a DIABETIC is no sin, definitely nothing to be ashamed of  and  there’s very little  reason for me to live the STIGMA.     Unlike years back – today  if I need to  or must take  some insulin I will  pull out an injection in a restaurant or public place (when I can’t get to a restroom )  and inject myself.  I am not worried anymore what people will think.

  Last but definitely not LEAST  is that I’ve found  that  there’s a whole lot of other diabetics out there  that I probably or almost CERTAINLY  would never have known about if I didn’t talk a lot more openly about the disease these days.  I’ve actually been able to help many of these STIGMATIZED diabetics which has helped me too!.    It’s also pretty interesting to see  how just KNOWING YOU”RE NOT ALONE can help someone feel better….  which I hope this BLOG will also do!!

 

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About

I'm a type-1 diabetic which has changed my life for what I hope is the better. My profession - at least what I get paid to do is computers (sysadmin). I'm a life long sports enthusiast and try to practise what I preach when it comes to being physically active. Still trying to achieve better diabetic control by juggling my diet, exercise and injections... As for things that interest me aside from sport -- I like keeping up on biotech research & medical devices and listening to country and western music.

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