I have a super-human ability for spotting insulin pump tubing among headphone cords and blood glucose meter cases among wallets and I like talking to people about diabetes, so when I saw the infamous black case I knew I had to start a conversation.
“How did you know?”
“I have it too.”
He shared a little about his recent blood sugar results and the blurry vision he gets when his blood sugar is too high. We talked about the frustration he feels when he is wait for his numbers to come back down.
He told me he wished that he had known about his family history with diabetes sooner because he would have made different choices so he wouldn’t be facing the battle he is now.
It doesn’t really matter what type of diabetes a person has, a lot of the feelings and actions are the same. I don’t get blurry vision when my blood sugar is high, but my body definitely lets me know in other ways that it is unhappy. I also get really frustrated when I wait for a stubborn blood sugar to come back down. I do have the “benefit” of insulin to speed up the process, but I understand the feeling.
Towards the end of our brief conversation, my new friend with diabetes told me about his most recent A1c result and that his doctor had told him that as long as he stays in that range he doesn’t have to take insulin. He mentioned someone else he knows who has diabetes “really bad” and has to take shots. My friend shared that he is really trying to make the right decisions because he doesn’t want that to happen to him.
There is a lot that I don’t know or don’t understand about type 2 diabetes, but I have picked up a few important pieces of knowledge from being a part of the greater diabetes community. One of those things that I’ve learned is that type 2 diabetes is a progressive disease. There is a good chance that eventually his pancreas will get burned out and need a little assistance in its insulin supply from an outside source. I shared what little I knew about the progression, and shortly after that we both had to get back to our tasks.
There is a lot of talk about diabetes – online, in person, with health care professionals, and in the media. How do we move the conversation from the idea of insulin signifying some sort of failure toward the acknowledgement and acceptance that it is the regular progression of a disease?
P.S. I don’t think insulin = failure is an issue just for people with type 2 diabetes. I know I have been in situations where it is so tempting to compare basal rates or total daily doses with other people with type 1 when really our insulin amounts have very little to do with each other.