Diabetes Week – let’s talk

By | 13 June, 2011

Fame at last. Like all good things – sausages, vegetarians, homeopathy and compost are amongst the terrifying collection of “awareness weeks” listed in the UK – we diabetics have our own week. And it’s now.

My initial assumption was this week meant it was obligatory for all those with a working pancreas to live the life of a diabetic for a week. Apparently though this isn’t the case as in the past this has led to a national shortage of fruit pastilles and was environmentally catastrophic when the whole country had to put their sheets on a hot wash at the same time to get rid of the blood stains.

So, we’re still the only ones playing at being pancreases, but it does mean the media will talk about us a bit, people will be sponsored to jump out of planes/walk/run/paraglide etc in our honour and hopefully by the end of the week a few more people will be slightly less ignorant about the whole diabetes thing and the charitable coffers will be slightly healthier.

This year, everyone’s second favourite diabetes charity, Diabetes UK, are encouraging people to talk about diabetes  for diabetes week. They’re trying to “raise awareness of the importance of talking about diabetes” which doesn’t seem a bad thing. I have been known to talk about the diabetes a little bit myself and I have to admit, I don’t do it for particularly altruistic reasons. I mostly talk about it because I find it the best way of dealing with it. Far better than keeping it all in my head.

So, in the spirit of talking I have two questions for you. Firstly, do you have any exciting plans for Diabetes Week? And secondly, are you comfortable talking about your diabetes or do you prefer to keep it a secret. There is a fatal flaw in this question in that the commenters will all say they’re comfortable and the lurkers will not be and will therefore continue to lurk, but let’s give it a go anyway!

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About Alison

Diagnosed with Type One in 1983 at the age of four, Alison's been at this for a while now. She uses Humalog in a combined insulin pump and continuous glucose monitoring system and any blood glucose meter as long as it takes five seconds or less.

18 thoughts on “Diabetes Week – let’s talk

  1. Dave

    1: Erm my plans for diabetes for this week tend to be the same as most weeks – try to control the little git while the rest of the world happens: school runs, work, etc

    2: Not at all comfortable with raising the subject, but will nervously talk about it when asked. Mainly from a history of pitying faces when I don’t want pity, I just want interest. And I will always talk in an apologetic kind of way. I know that’s not the right way but that’s how I am as a person and suddenly being told “It’s nothing to be ashamed of, be PROUD” doesn’t really change how I present it.

  2. Nig

    In answer to your first question – “do I have any exciting plans for Diabetes Week?” – No! Unless you count trying to keep my blood glucose in single digits; admittedly not exciting, and no different than my plans during non-“Diabetes Weeks”, but a plan nonetheless!
    As for your second question, in general, no, I am not happy about talking about it (don’t you just love paradoxes?).
    I should probably explain that a little. i have no problem discussing my diabetes with family and friends, nor with appropriately qualified medical staff (i.e. not receptionists, telephonists or other gatekeepers). I am relatively happy posting stuff here (having been a long term lurker). That. I think, is the key to all this. I am happy to discuss MY diabetes (rather than diabetes as an abstract concept) with those I trust. My period of lurking here was a qualifying period which allowed me to work out how trustworthy you bunch of maniacs were 😀 !
    However there are people I have known for a long time that I have never spoken to about my diabetes and who as far as I am aware don’t even know I am diabetic. In some cases (e.g. with clients and previously, employers) I think it would just bring unneccessary complication into the relationship, so I don’t mention it.

  3. Megs

    Plan for diabetes week, not to mess up any infusion sets and cgm sensors. I should have got sponsored for the number of air bubbles I get when filling my pump reservoir, that would help boost finances for research.

    I talk about it openly in my head, debating how to solve highs and lows. In public unless someone knows I don’t say and even when asked by the medical profession I still feel almost apologetic that after 33 years I haven’t got it sorted. I wasn’t allowed to mention it by my parents when I was diagnosed as a child and I have only in the last few years realised it wasn’t my fault and it is something I should not be ashamed of. So here’s to talking about diabetes.

  4. jason

    Hi Alison,

    No exciting plans for Diabetes Week, except that after 22 years of being a type 1, I still can’t figure out how to bolus for pizza, and the two small slices I had over the weekend rocked me up to long lasting double digit numbers. My personal resolution, therefore, for Diabetes Week, is to learn how to properly bolus for pizza, or just bloody avoid it!!

    That’s an interesting point about openly discussing diabetes. I agree with earlier comments. Only in the last two years have I actually taken control of my diabetes (rare pizza event excluded….) and that is solely down to loitering on these wonderful online forums and I do feel comfortable discussing diabetes, but only with other diabetics who know what it is like living with this pain in the pancre-ass.

    Sharing experiences and swapping tips and ideas with other T1’s is, has been, in my opinion, far more beneficial to my control than 20 years of going to see the endo 🙂

    1. Dave

      Spot on Jason. SUorPU aka Diabetics Anonymous or Diabetic Club – the first rule of Diabetic Club is you don’t talk about Diabetic Club.

  5. Paul

    My plans for diabetes week are to go & see my doctor with a problem which doesn’t require me to stick a needle into myself for a change! Otherwise its to carry on counting the carbs, injecting & cursing the reading 3hrs later on the meter.

    I don’t mind talking to other non diabetics about diabetes, but find the conversations are often very similar.

  6. Annette A

    I will be matking the week by pushing my pimp’s temporary basal rates to the limit whilst cycling/walking around the Devon countryside 🙂 And if asked,I can talk Diabetes for Britain, but I tend not to bring it up myself-I dont want to be pushing it down peoples throats.

    1. lady up north

      Oh – having a pimp for diabetes sounds do much more exciting than pens and lancets.
      Also I understand pimps take a percentage so would that mean we would only have to be diabetic for, say, 85% of the time ?

  7. Rohan

    Well I was completely unaware of this awareness week until this post, so they aren’t shouting loud enough, evidentially!

    Also, it may only be me, but I feel that being lumped in with ‘Homeopathy’ and ‘Compost’ amongst all the awareness weeks some what lessens the effect. :/

  8. lizz

    Well, I don’t mind talking about it, or haven’t minded in the past. I find other people’s reactions to be in the spirit of how I choose to explain – ie if I’m cheerful, then I get no ‘I’m so sorry for you’ faces.

    Nowadays, I have the dog. She has ‘Diabetes Hypo-alert puppy’ written all over her. Plus she is an unusual type of dog and amazingly gorgeous. Thus EVERYWHERE we go I am asked what sort of dog she is, what she does, how she is trained, why she needs to do it. on the whole, I don’t mind explaining. But when we are out shopping, it does add about an hour (literally) to the time it takes us to do anything.

    i do resent explaining all the above when:

    I am trying to eat, we are having dinner out etc.

    I am having a conversation with a friend.

    I am having a hypo.

    We are obviously in a hurry to get somewhere, ie running!

    We are trying to do something/in the middle of something requiring concentration, ie paying for goods, out on a poetry-writing day, etc etc.

  9. Alison Post author

    @seasiderdave “the first rule of Diabetic Club is you don’t talk about Diabetic Club” – I fear I may have to be banned from my own blog for breaking said rule pretty much daily 🙁

  10. Dave

    @alison I’m afraid it’s going to take a while for my years of embarrasment of being ‘a diabetic’ is fully cured. Maybe by then I’ll have been convinced a pump is a good idea 😉

  11. Karen

    just found you when I was looking for pump info and thought I would add my tuppenceworth. I hope it is ok for me to be here. I have a fully functioning pancreas (dont mean to gloat) but my 6 year old son’s one gave up the ghost when he was 2 and if I could I could swap and give him mine I would although I am sure I wouldnt be as brave with all those finger checks and injections as he is.

    Anyway back to the question. Nope not doing a thing for Diabetes Week except maybe have a moan at some of the adverts being produced by the likes of LLoyds Pharamacy. Have done fundraising and stuff in the past but felt it was time to give it a little rest.

    Yes I can talk and talk and talk about diabetes. I now dont bring it up unless someone else does or unless it is relevant to some activity that my son will be invovled in and even then I try and stop talking just before peoples eyes glaze over and I have lost them. To be honest I think unless it effects someone they really are not that interested and sometimes even those it does effect dont want to know what you are doing to raise awareness as they are so set in their own ways. I will stop now before I ramble on all night.

  12. Alison Post author

    @karen.duthie Hi, welcome to ShootUp. we won’t hold your funtioning pancreas against you – as someone who’s had diabetes since the age of 4 I’ve got a lot of time for people playing at being a pancreas third hand, it’s a mighty tough job! That’s such a skill, being able to stop just before people’s eyes glaze over, it’s one that I only have some of the time unfortunately. Sometimes I need to be forceably removed from my soapbox!

    I hope you found the pump info you were looking for, or at least found something vaguely entertaining instead.

  13. Nig

    @Karen.Duthie – yes, Type 3’s like you are very well regarded by the typical Type 1! Injecting oneself and doing the carbo-maths for one’s own body is tricky enough, doing it on belhalf of your own offspring is something else. I really have no idea how my parents coped with my diagnosis (at the advanced age of 10) so your efforts on behalf of your 2-year old / 6-year old are really awe-inspiring.
    Even if the typical SuoPu member is slightly older than your son, hopefully you will appreciate the juvenile sense of humour regularly displayed here.
    Oh, and if you actually want any useful information, feel free to ask; who knows what sort of answer you will get but I don’t think you will have to worry about “eyes glazing over”. 🙂

  14. katherine cromwell

    @Annette A That’s where I’ve been going wrong then not having a Pimp!
    Well I’ve joined the gym again for DW well actually not just for the week but its a good excuse to say that this is what I am now up to. So like @Annette I will be adjusting my TBR and than cursing that I still hypo and need to eat x amount of calories which I had only just burnt off!!

    @Karen Duthie Well done you for finding SuoPu. My friend’s daughter became D when she was two (she is now 10) and I think she has done a tremendous job. As I am sure you have as well. Not only do you have to get the working out of carbs/exercise/growing/insulin right but you also have that emotional imput to get right which is hard enough with a non D child. 3 cheers for all those parents with D youngsters!!


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