Hello, My Name Is.............. And I Have Diabetes

Sometimes diabetes can feel like such a large part of your life, that when you meet new people for the first time - you almost feel like saying, 'Hi My Name is So and So and I Have Diabetes'.

Quite often new people you meet don't even know that you have diabetes. But when you have an insulin pump for example or if you're going to be spending any length of time with them, then sometimes you feel like you need to tell them that you have diabetes. Almost as a disclaimer for later when you get your injections out or test your blood sugars, and they don't know what's going on. We shouldn't have to explain ourselves, but I find that perhaps because I'm so comfortable with my diabetes- saying I have the condition is as natural as saying my own name. So what's the best way to introduce your diabetes when you meet someone for the first time?

Having been on both multiple daily insulin injections and an insulin pump in the 12 years that I've had diabetes, I would say that there's a distinct difference in the way that you can introduce your diabetes to new people. When you are on insulin injections, if you're not injecting then no one knows that you have the condition. However, on an insulin pump you're wearing a small mobile phone sized device on your person 24 hours a day. And quite often it's visible for others to see. So I've found that if I don't tell people what it is fairly soon. Then their curiosity gets the better of them and they ask what it is and then I have to explain about my diabetes.

New friends are always coming in and out of your life whether it be at school, work or just in social situations and I think depending on the place can depend on how you introduce your diabetes. For example in school it's quite common to have one or two close friends or a group of extended friends. I remember that when I met my friends in high school when I had diabetes, they weren't looking at me and seeing the condition. They were looking at whether I looked friendly or fun to be around. I think that they decided yes as my friends from school are still my close friends now. And I think if someone was to ask them what it was like when I introduced my diabetes, then they would say that they just saw it as part of me. I didn't make a big fuss of it, however they did know what to do in case of an emergency which is important.

In work situations it was probably more challenging to introduce my diabetes, not because they weren't receptive. But more because I was more mindful than at school, that I wanted to be myself first and someone with diabetes second. It was just as important to let them know that I had the condition so they could act in case of an emergency. And at work you also have to do a risk assessment for a condition such as diabetes. Work is also a good measure of how much the diabetes epidemic has grown over recent years. The reason I say this is because as a 16 year old working for the first time, my colleagues didn't know much about diabetes and no one seemed to know about anyone else with it either. At 16 I didn't know anyone else with the condition myself. But 8 years later a conversation on diabetes with my work colleagues introduces the fact that I'm just one of the many others with diabetes they know. They roughly know what it is and they know that a poor diet for example could even put them at risk of Type 2 diabetes.

In social situations when meeting new people, the kinds of questions that I get asked are- does that box play music? (referring to my insulin pump). Does it hurt when you do your injections? And how long is the needle? Difficult questions to answer as you don't want to frighten people, but the reality is that sometimes diabetes does hurt. These tend to be the more sensible of the questions that I get asked, some of the sillier ones include- is the reason you have diabetes because you ate too many sweets or were you as a fat child? To these questions I begin with a deep breath and patiently explain that there is more than one type of diabetes and the kind I have was not caused by too many doughnuts.

But the silver lining of meeting new people and introducing diabetes is when you meet others with the condition. Recently I went away to a diabetes camp in Italy for young leaders with the condition, with people from all across Europe in attendance all with Type 1 diabetes. It was an indescribable feeling to meet people who knew about the condition from their own experiences. There was no asking silly questions, no staring at people doing their injections- only understanding and appreciation for what each of us had been through. So if you get the chance, don't forget that making new friends can be fun and exciting not always uncomfortable and awkward. Diabetes is just a part of who you are, not the whole piece so wear your pump or do your injections with pride.

Image of new friends in Italy with Type 1 diabetes


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My blog takes you through a daily look at sport, diabetes and everything in between. As an athlete that lives with type 1 diabetes I want to let you into news, views and all that is important to both of my passions.


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