Misconceptions about diabetes

This just came up as a topic on a WebMD board, but I’d like to bring it up here as well. The question was, what are some stereotypes (and/or misconceptions) that you run into as a diabetic?

Ha - I love them all. I don’t get upset with SOME people for not knowing. I actually prefer questions to assumptions any day of the week. Before my diagnosis, I knew next to nothing about the disease.

These are some of my personal favorites I’ve gotten:

  1. You don’t LOOK like a diabetic (because I’m not morbidly obese).

  2. I’m thirsty – I’m getting diabetes. (wtf?)

  3. I ate _____ (fill in the blank with any sugary snack). I’m sure I’m getting diabetes, since my whole family is full of diabetics. (Of course, this type of comment is made by people that have a history of Type 2 diabetes in their families – not Type 1 diabetes, which is quite different.)

  4. Oh, I’m sorry for offering you ____ (fill in the blank with sugary snack), since you can’t have any. (This one comes quite often after I decline a snack. I can eat whatever I like, I just have to account for it. Maybe I’m just NOT IN THE MOOD or what you’re offering looks repulsive.)

  5. Equal/Splenda will give you cancer – you shouldn’t use them. (If I want sweetener, these are among my best options.)

  6. Since you can’t have regular soda, here is a gallon of juice (since commenter assumes diabetics can have unlimited quantities of “healthy” things, and juice is healthy).

I’d like to point out that some of the above comments have been made to me by doctors and/or nurses (not my endo or PCP, but people I work with or know from social situations). That is quite scary, that our medical professionals are so ignorant about things. I understand they may not specialize in diabetes, but they should know better than to make such insensitive comments and/or comments without any medical/factual basis.

How about the one that I have been feeling tired lately like __________________ (fill in the blank of your diabetic friend) so I must be a diabetic also.

A dietician told me that all fruit has the same amount of sugar (no difference between bananas and berries?) but they are OK because it is natural sugar.

I like the one where my doctor could not understand why the dosage she prescribed for me did not bring my sugar levels down like it was supposed to. Doesn’t everyone’s body react the same way to medications. I must have been doing something wrong.

I have also been told by doctors that even though some proteins have carbs in them you do not count the carbs you just count the protein. Example: Luncheon meat, cheese, dried beans, peanut butter etc. etc.

One of my work collegues told me to not eat and just have vitamin tablets. She says it must be unhealthy for me to inject myself with insulin all the time.

Another person thought there was sugar in diet coke. Someone actually brought me a diet coke when my sugars dropped once.

the best one is when I decide to have a treat, I then don’t hear the end of it for weeks from my well meaning, but grossly misinformed, friends.

Hey,Libby! I like that one.DUH!

Being Type 1, upon diagnosis, many of my relatives said, “I’m sorry to hear that you have the BAD diabetes.” As if Type 1 or Type 2 are better or worse than the other. I’ve also gotten the “I won’t offer you any” related to desserts, etc. As if, I cannot control myself if put in immediate proximity to culinary delights. Also, most do not understand what insulin is and why it is used. Many think it is a medicine, that’s taken like a daily aspirin - not a necessity of life.

These are a few of the things that have kept me from “wearing” my disease on my sleeve, and only sharing with close friends and associates. I’m not ashamed, but in spending most of my time trying to normalize my life, it makes it very hard to do so when so many are uneducated. If I need to share, I do without hesitation and am always happy to answer questions, but I am just not the type to be an evangelist or an activist.

A “good” response by people who don’t know is when I have a low, someone will tell me to have more insulin. Most of the time I’m cognizant enough to ignore that help.

My husband who knows better actually bought a Diet Coke for me at the Zoo when my blood sugar was low. He was a bit stressed about having to leave me on a bench when he went to look for sugar and since I always get a Diet Coke when we’re out that’s what came out of his mouth when he went to order.
Lucky for us he hadn’t opened the bottle yet and was able to exchange it for a bottle of regular.

So are you and your husband going to adopt? Cause obviously diabetic women shouldn’t have kids.

LOL, Autumn that is hilarious!
I have heard countless ridiculous comments over the years, so I’m like Shawn-- I don’t “wear it on my sleeve.” What is it about D that makes people think they know so much about it (and should offer you advice about it)?? I will never understand that. When someone says they have cancer or MS or, I don’t know, epilepsy or something, people do not offer advice. But with D, people ALWAYS give you unsolicited advice and make offending comments!! I can’t stand it. A friend of mine with T1 says she just uses opportunities like that to “educate” people, but I have not had success with that, either. Go figure.

This is really funny. Can I use this in my film?

Same here…I am very hesitant to tell new friends about my T1…It sort of puts you on display, which makes me uncomfortable, but also sets you up for everyone’s opinions and advice, usually way wrong! It is hard when people genuinely do care and want to know more as Diabetes is very complicated and explanations can get boring very quickly. I’d just rather not go there.

So many of these comments are just depressing, especially the ones coming from members of the medical community…it makes me sad.

I am always put off by the mention of the dreaded "Diabetic Coma, " as I’ve stated before in prior discussions. It must be similar to what epileptics are made to feel…people think that you are prone to collapsing in a foaming fit at any given moment.

I’m sorry to hear that your daughter has diabetes, my mom has it (t2), it will be much better when you have it under control.
How is your daughter doing, is her diabetes under control now?

Is it ever?

Unfortuanately, TU Diabetes is not immune to mis-information. A couple of weeks ago I saw a video, posted by a type 1, where a number of other members (with type 1) had given it favorable reviews. The video started out with a slide show where the following statement was shown: “Type 2 diabetes can go away. There is no cure for type 1.” Being a type 2, I was stunned to read this erroneous information on TuDiabetes and that none of the members with type 1 had pointed out the error. While I have managed to keep my type 2 under control, I know that I will have it forever.

I never saw this video, so I may be competely wrong, but I believe it said “Type 2 CAN go away” (Sorry for th caps but I couldn’t underline it.

It may have been refering to the rare cases where people can recover from type 2 if they developed it due toiv weight. However, what it should have said is something like “In some cases, type 2 may go away, or be controlled with diet. However, type 1 there is no cure.” But, to hear that a video is giving this message concerns me. I am type 1 but I am fully aware of the fact that both types are just as bad as each other.

I want to combat all misconceptions of diabetes, especially those concerning the differenced between type 1 and 2 and the fact that they are two different deseases with different treatments.

That’s true…or it starts a conversation about all the horrible illnesses friends and friends of friends have. Having T1 is very personal to me.

I just got through watching dLife, where Jim turner was commenting on Haley Berry telling a reporter that she weaned herself off of insulin and has been transformed from a type1 to a type 2. In a few more months Haley will be reporting that she has been completely cured of diabetes! It’s a miralce!

That’s a huge one. It is so annoying to read about diabetes, knowing they are talking about T2. The whole Haley thing just adds to the confusion.