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Sunday, 26 July 2015

Apologies don't regrow Beta cells

"What's that?" The 30 year old waiter pointed to my hip.

Here we go again. 

"Oh. That. It's my insulin pump. I'm Diabetic." 

"I thought it was a pager." A pause, as his brain ran into overdrive to process what I said. "I'm sorry you have that."

"It doesn't bother me." I gave him a quick smile as I turned away. 

A few minutes later I returned to the counter to pay for my meal. He clearly wasn't done thinking about it yet. "I thought you were a doctor."

"No, just diabetic."

"I always thought diabetes only happened to old people." This guy obviously does a lot of thinking. I contemplated buying him a thesaurus just so he could look up alternatives to 'I thought'.

"I have Type 1 Diabetes, it's autoimmune. Maybe you've heard of juvenile or kids diabetes? Its that kind."

He paused, apparently trying to decide if he should say what he was thinking, which turned out to be "Like when their parents feed them too much sugar?"

And he was doing so well in his questions before that.

"No, no. Autoimmune means my body attacked itself. It has nothing to do with sugar. Its just something that happened" Somehow I managed to keep my voice polite. It really did seem like he wanted to know, so I gave him the benefit of the doubt with his statement about too much sugar. He did start to nod his head like he understood.

"Well, I hope they have a cure for you one day. I'm really sorry you have diabetes."

Some days I hate these conversations. You can tell the people who aren't going to listen to or believe you, no matter how many facts you arm yourself with. Today I felt like I was talking to someone who would listen. It was also the first time anyone has ever apologised to me about my diabetes. I didn't really know what to say to that because I'm not sorry that I have diabetes. I'm just sorry that so many misconceptions about diabetes are still mainstream.

NDW (National Diabetes Week) ended just over a week ago and conversations like this are why I will continue to answer questions and field silly comments with as much tact and good nature as possible (out loud, anyway. The ranting monologue in my head may sound a little different). The public currently get their education from the media, which more often than not, print misleading or false information about all types of diabetes. Its open and honest conversations where you don't make people feel silly for asking that help to change wrong pre-defined ideas about diabetes to a correct and better understanding of diabetes.

For myth busting on Type 2 Diabetes, see here. For Type 1 myths, click here.

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