Managing type 1 diabetes (T1D) means insulin calculations, getting plenty of exercise, and making strategic meal plans. But it also means awkward moments, unnecessary advice, and lots of looks from people who don’t live with diabetes.
While we might be well-equipped to take care of our disease, we aren’t always ready for these awkward moments with strangers, friends, and family who might not understand what we live with.
Here are the dos and don’ts of diabetes etiquette for those without diabetes, written by a T1D.
Do Ask Questions.
If you’re speaking to someone with type 1 diabetes, ask questions about the condition. I believe that 9 times out of 10, when the question is asked kindly, that the T1D will be happy to answer you. At the end of the day, we’d rather you understand better than continue to walk around with misconceptions.
Don’t Ask Loaded Questions.
Is it the bad type?
So you just have to watch your diet, right?
Did you eat too much sugar as a kid?
When people with T1D hear questions like this, it can be enlightening and frustrating at the same time. Enlightening because I am surprised to hear people still make these assumptions or have these ideas. Frustrating because these people still make these assumptions or have these ideas. Try phrasing a question like, “Can I ask you something so I understand type 1 more clearly?” or “Do you mind telling me more about it?”
Do Be Supportive.
What does being supportive really mean to you? For someone with type 1 Diabetes, it’s nice to know that others sort of understand what’s going on and that they are willing to help if needed. This could simply mean checking in on your friend or helping them find a snack when they are low. Showing your support displays itself in various ways.
Don’t Tell Us Horror Stories About Your Relatives.
The general public tends to have the idea that telling someone with T1D about your grandfather who lost his foot because of diabetes is, I don’t know, helpful? Most patients diagnosed with T1D are aware of the possibility of complications and their effects on the body caused by T1D. Please do not feel like it is your duty to remind us of the things that can happen to us (or may have already started) when you don’t know! Bring this into the conversation if the person with T1D has started talking about it or asks you a question.