All The Characters

This was originally posted to my blog, Diabetes Odyssey.

One of the most wonderful things in life are all the different personality types out there. Life would be so boring if we were all the same. Yeah, certain types of people really get on the nerves, but, hey, they keep life interesting and keep us on our toes and appreciating the good ones, right?

Throughout my life, like every diabetic or person with a chronic illness (or 20) out there, I’ve encountered many different types of people that each have responded in a different way when finding out, or just talking to me about, my type 1 diabetes.

The Bleeding Heart: This person is the one who looks at you with tears in their eyes as if you just told them you were dying of some terminal diagnosis. Thanks for caring so much and having empathy, but please don’t treat me like I’m ill. I’m a diabetic, not an invalid.

The Asshole: This person can react in a number of ways, but all of them are cruel and heartless. This person is mean, uncaring, and a bully. Once they find out you are a diabetic they suddenly treat you as if you are worthless or sub-human, and pick on you. They usually assume you became a diabetic because you eat too much or are lazy. They are always uneducated and totally ignorant.

The Care-taker: Once this person finds out you are a diabetic they will take it upon themselves to suddenly have your diabetes care as their number one priority. “Have you checked your blood-sugar? Can you eat that? Are you OK? Did you take your medicine?” OMG! leave me alone, I can and do take care of myself!

The Sorry One: This person will apologize for your diabetes and feel bad for you. They will say things like, “I’m sorry for all the candy and junk food here.”, “I’m sorry we don’t have any diet soda.”, “We have a veggie tray for you.”. It’s all from a good, but misguided, heart.

The Cure-all One: This person has all the cures. You’re diabetic? I have a cure for that! Cinnamon! Garlic! These supplements! This totally off-the-wall diet! This snake oil really does the trick!

The Fellow Diabetic: These people are awesome! Nothing feels better than meeting another diabetic and feeling totally at home with them. We get each other and have each other’s back.

The Doom and Gloomer: This person knows, like, a ton of diabetics…and they’re all missing body parts or dead…

The Shame Gamer: This person, when they find out you are a diabetic, will throw blame and shame at you for being a diabetic, and for every health related issue you have from now on. “You don’t take care of yourself”, “You don’t eat right”, “You don’t exercise enough”, “You’re diabetic because you…”. These people are ignorant and heartless just like The Asshole.

The Questioner: This person has all the questions about diabetes and what it’s like. They aren’t mean or stupid or bad in any way…although they can become a bit annoying. They just want to know and understand, and as long as they are genuinely listening, go ahead and take this opportunity to educate!

The Indifferent One: This person does not care that you are diabetic. They treat you no different than they did before they knew. These people are wonderful.

The Plagued One: These people, when they find out you are diabetic, suddenly step back, and may have a disgusted look on their face. They think you are contagious or something and don’t want to be around you anymore. Ignorant fools.

The Friendship Ender: These people were never your friend to begin with. When they find out you are diabetic, all of a sudden they are no longer around or available. They can’t handle what they believe to be a burden and they have no interest in learning the truth.

The True Friend: In stark contrast to The Friendship Ender, when this friend finds out you are diabetic they may initially act like The Indifferent One or The Questioner, but then they become your confidant, shoulder, comforter, and supporter. You are safe and perfectly comfortable around them. They get you, they understand, and they aren’t going anywhere.

Have you met these people? Have you met any that aren’t on this list?


As you are no doubt aware, the vast majority of the types you list are unendurable, which is why I assiduously keep my diabetes a secret. Diabetes in my perspective is like blood in the water, and the non-diabetic people around are like sharks. They may be reasonably behaved and placid under normal circumstances, but as soon as they smell blood in the water they become vicious. Because they know you are diabetic and thus weaker than they are, at least in a physiological sense, they imagine they can freely unleash their desire to dominate, punish, shun, or criticize you, while with everyone else, whom they assume to be equal to them, they behave politely.

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Funnily enough, in my almost 50 years of having diabetes, and being open about it, I have never had a single person “become vicious” in response, or seek to “dominate, punish, shun or criticize” me. Instead of “knowing” that I am “weaker,” many in fact admire how I live comfortably with my chronic condition. Some even see me as a role model, and have asked me to speak with friends or children who are recently diagnosed. Many ask a few questions and then simply forget that I have diabetes, because it’s really no big deal, for me or for them. I guess it’s all about one’s outlook, whether one chooses to be a victim or not.


In the 10 short months my son has been T1 we have had people react in all sorts of ways. I have halted story telling a time or two. My son is aware of the complications, he doesn’t need to hear your horror story. He is not afraid to educate the ignorant. We have never run into actual cruelty. I imagine something like that might put me in jail. There is often pity but the vast majority are either curious or supportive with the occasional know it all. He tells the people who want to fix him that he will continue to follow his doctors orders. He shows every day that he is strong. I try very hard to teach all of my kids to live happy, productive lives neverminding the opinion of others. He is no exception. It’s easier to see the ugliness in someone when they react badly. Better to see it up front than have it sneak up on you. There will be no hiding here.


I also in my 47years have been very open and share with everyone. I have never had anyone dominate, punish or shun me. It might be how I approach these conversations. I always listen to what they have to say or questthey may have and if I get the if you do this… you’ll be cured line, I calmly say, my medical team and I have a really good handle on my treatment plan and it is working well for me. After all these years I have learned there is a lot of misinformation out there and while I try to help educate, there are just some who don’t understand. And I just let it roll off. Not my problem, it’s theirs and I move on. But most people are pretty impressed with how well I have done and are cure doing. I think they need to see more of us living well with diabetes. Which I try to do everyday.
So smile and enjoy and don’t let those few, beat you down!


How about the ones that assume one’s IQ drops at least 50 points with a diagnosis of D?
I’m an intellectual snob, and this one bothers me the most! All the others I can deal with firmly and mostly with humour, but being thought of as intellectually inferior because of an autoimmune pancreatic screw up really fires me up and I become exactly that, an inarticulate babbler😂. Sigh.

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