22 November 2021

Understanding and misunderstanding Diabetes

This month is Diabetes Awareness Month: a time when the subject of diabetes takes centre stage. When we shine a light on what it’s like to live with it every day. Managing daily life under the constant threat of highs and lows is challenging… But it’s made easier for many due to the access they have to health care and support. This year’s Awareness Month’s important theme is “Access to diabetes care – if not now, when?”. According to the IDF, millions of people around the world still have no or little access to appropriate diabetes care. 

So, how do I (Hein, it’s nice to e-meet you!) experience “diabetes awareness” as I live with type 1? Well, for me personally, I’ve always been very open about the fact that I have diabetes. I speak up about how I deal with it and what my experience is. OK… I don’t shout it from the rooftops, but if people ask about it I’m happy to explain, at the right time. Of course, it helps massively if those around me know something about diabetes already. Sure, they might still get hypos and hypers mixed up,  and I’m regularly served real cola when I have a hyper… but it’s always meant kindly. And I’m grateful that most people understand and respect that I sometimes have to stop to eat a Dextro or change my pump at an awkward moment. 

Your aunt’s sugar-free cake 

Diabetes awareness, to me, is an aunt serving a sugar-free pastry, or when I’m given a regular coke when I’ve got a hyper. It might not be what I want or need, but I smile and accept it. Because it shows that the person realizes the impact diabetes has on what I eat, how I live my life, and the decisions I need to make many times a day.

As people with diabetes, we see this impact more broadly, and we must address the mental aspect that comes as part and parcel of our daily life experience. In the Netherlands, where I live, I’m aware that the impact of diabetes is likely to be less for me than for others. I’m very aware that diabetes care here is good, which makes the IDF’s theme even more significant… “Access to diabetes care – if not now, when? Millions of people still don’t have proper access to appropriate diabetes care, and I know that I’m one of the lucky ones.

Together we create more diabetes awareness

The understandings and misunderstandings of life with diabetes aren’t going anywhere, which is fine for me, because otherwise, this world would be boring! But every step we take to respect each other a little more or to give that extra smile is vital. If you don’t have diabetes and you spot a sensor in the wild, or an insulin pump and you want to know what it is? Just ask! People with diabetes often want to talk about their experiences and explain things, as long as the time is convenient for them. Together, we can make diabetes easier to understand. 

How would you like those around you to react to your diabetes?

About Hein

Diabetes Medtech fanatic Hein has had diabetes since 2011 and is part of the marketing team of Kaleido. His biggest diabetes challenge to date was running the Rome Marathon. 30-degree heat, 42 kilometres, trying to keep his BGs on track…