Five Things People with Type 1 Should Stop Doing Already

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As an outside observer, I have watched the Type 1 diabetes community grow and mature so much in recent years. That being said, there’s always room for improvement. Allow me to offer five unsolicited pieces of advice.

In the future, people with Type 1 diabetes might want to stop….

1. …saying they won’t let Type 1 diabetes stop them/slow them down

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Why: First, it’s a cliche, and cliches raise my blood pressure.

Second, it’s a sneaky form of ableism. When you say someone “won’t” let diabetes stop them, you imply that everyone with Type 1 has a choice to do whatever they want in life despite the condition, and that’s always not the case. I’ve interviewed professional athletes who were “stopped” by Type 1 diabetes for a significant period of time, despite their best efforts.

2. …being surprised at how ignorant people can be about Type 1 diabetes

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Why: For one thing, it’s wasted energy.

For another, it isn’t actually that surprising. Type 1 diabetes is a relatively rare condition, and people show ignorance of conditions that are far more common. Hell, 1 in 5 people in the U.S. believes the sun revolves around the earth.

It’s not your job to educate every idiot who thinks you got Type 1 diabetes from eating too much sugar, but such ignorance is something you need to be prepared to hear, sadly.

3. …using asterisks and puns to swear politely about Type 1 diabetes.

Why: Yes, we all know what “duk fiabetes” really means, and it was kind of cute the first 10 times I read it. Now, if you need to use colorful language to describe your blood sugar levels, let ‘er rip.

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4. …assuming everyone can achieve the same blood sugar control.

Why: Because not everyone can afford all the tools they need for treatment, or the time to study their blood sugar level graphs. Some people are working three jobs and skipping meals just to be able to afford older-generation insulin. In many other countries, even that insulin is a luxury.

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5. …limiting their activism to Facebook posts

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Why: The Type 1 diabetes community is a leader among those with chronic conditions when it comes to banding together, but too often that collective energy is focused on making some killer memes about lows.

I obviously love memes, but as far as I know, no elected official has changed their stance on health policy because of a roomful of angry memes. Reach out to other chronic care groups, go to a town hall, and make a few calls.

And then make some more awesome memes.

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