In this post I aim to set the record straight about diabetes by answering questions I've been regularly asked about diabetes.
Q: Have you got the good type or the bad type?
A: As far as I'm concerned, a 'good type' of diabetes doesn't exist. Types 1 and 2 are chronic illnesses. Both are life-changing and require constant care. If by what you mean 'the good type' is 'is it curable?', I have the bad type because mine isn't. If what you mean by 'the bad type' is 'did your lifestyle cause your diabetes?' (also a serious generalisation by the way!) I have the good type because I didn't do it to myself. Both types of diabetes are diseases. Is a disease ever a good thing? No.
Q: You're never allowed to eat sweets, are you?
A: I'm not allergic to sugar, I'm diabetic. I can eat sweets or a cake or chocolate if I want to, I just have to inject insulin to cover it! No, I shouldn't consume the entire contents of the confectionery aisle at the supermarket all in one sitting, but neither should a non-diabetic. Everything's alright in moderation.
Q: How are you a diabetic when you're not fat?
A: Sometimes type 2 diabetes can develop because of an unhealthy lifestyle and sometimes obesity, but not always. Not only that, but I'm a type 1 anyway! Type 1 diabetes is not caused by the lifestyle a person lived prior to diagnosis.
[A similar assumption people make is that type 1 diabetes is caused by eating too many sweets when a person is younger. Myth buster says: FALSE!]
Q: Type 1 diabetes is the one you're born with, isn't it?
A: Annoyingly, the cause of type 1 diabetes is not yet certain. There are a few schools of thought surrounding what causes diabetes (genetic? triggered by something environmental?) but no one is yet 100% sure of what forces our pancreas to take a permanent vacation. I was diagnosed at 3, my uncle at 14 and my second cousin at 26 years old. As you can see, we're not born with it.
Q: Your diabetes will make you blind, won't it?
A: If I don't take care of it and have awful management, yes. There's a very strong risk of complications if you refuse to control your blood sugars to the best of your ability (or if your HbA1c is above 7%) However because I try my hardest most of the time to prioritise my health, hopefully I won't get any diabetes related complications and hopefully I won't go blind!
Sorry for how blunt this post is, but I don't usually write really informative posts and I thought there were a few things people should know. So next time you see a diabetic injecting their insulin and then eating a muffin, please don't assume it's going to kill them. They're not doing anything wrong :)