“Can You Have Any of That Stuff?”
“What would you like to drink, Frank? Zero?”
“Yeah, zero. Thank you.”
“You’re diabetic, aren’t you? You can’t really have that, can you?” My friend’s daughter asked me as I pulled the tab on the can and took my first sip, referring of course to the full sugar coke.
“I could have it if I wanted to. But this makes it easier, I replied while wildly gesturing to the can in my hand.”
“That spikes you really quickly, yeah?”
“So can you have any of that stuff at all?”
“My body doesn’t produce any insulin. So if I drank that, I would have to give insulin to cover it. But I’d prefer not to. I’d rather have my sugar in solid foods anyway,” I added, weirdly gesturing at the plate of mandarines on the coffee table but really thinking about chocolate or biscotti or a good milky coffee. Or cannoli.
I feel like I’m walking a very thin tightrope whenever I’m trying to explain diabetes to, well, people who don’t clearly don’t have diabetes. I get this burning desire to dispel the myth that I’m sentenced to a miserable life without any sugar just because I have diabetes. Then I always feel this great sense of responsibility not to stigmatise my fellow PWD by linking other types of diabetes to a poor diet or lack of physical activity.
I feel like I’ve done this far too many times already. I’m sure it won’t be long before I’m explaining diabetes to someone else, once again. I only wish that conversations like these would ‘stick’ more easily, and translate into a better understanding of diabetes.