First, there is absolutely nothing I could have done to prevent getting this disease. Type 1 is an auto immune disorder unlike Type 2. Type 2 is much more common and is typically what people think of when they think about diabetes. They are extremely different. I didn't eat too much sugar nor was I too inactive. My pancreas stopped producing insulin. That means that every time I eat food, I have to take insulin. So I have to know how many carbs I eat and I take insulin accordingly. So, I have to have my diabetic supplies on me at all times. I also have to check my blood sugar at least four times a day (I need to be better about this if I'm honest :/). Plus there are several factors (hormones, stress, being sick, etc)that can alter my blood sugar. I can actually take too much insulin and die, and I can take too little insulin and go into a diabetic coma. The disease is complex and emotionally draining, and there is absolutely no one who understands expect other Type 1 diabetics. As you can imagine, that can be lonely at times.
Another big misconception is that all diabetics can't eat sugar. I absolutely can eat sugar. My diabetes is not controlled by diet. As I mentioned previously, I take insulin based on how many carbs I have or will be eating. So technically I could eat an entire cake and just take the required insulin. Obviously, eating an entire cake is bad decision for anyone, diabetics and non-diabetics alike. However, this is not the case for Type 2 Diabetics. Their bodies still produce insulin, but their cells do not receive the insulin well. Having too much sugar, being overweight, not exercising, etc can contribute to this cellular dysfunction. This is why Type 2 diabetics are supposed to keep their sugar/carb intake low. A lot of Type 2 diabetics can completely rid themselves of the disease by eating healthy and exercising (this is not always the case). Outside of miracle, there is nothing I can do to make my diabetes go away.
People also think diabetes is death sentence. Type 1 and Type 2 diabetics can live a normal life span if they manage the disease properly. Also, yes I have seen Steel Magnolias and yes I can have children. Type 1 diabetics CAN have their own children. It is more tricky and you have to manage your blood sugar closely, but it is possible to have a baby and not die. I could go on with more misconceptions, but I'll leave it here.
I'm sharing all of this information with you because you will probably meet a Type 1 diabetic in your life, and they would probably appreciate a person who better understands their disease. Diabetes has one of the biggest stigmas attached to it and people judge diabetics a lot. Also, people often voice their opinions. As a nurse, I actually experience this with my fellow nurses. I have been scolded by so many of my coworkers for eating candy. That is how widely misunderstood my disease is. Even nurses don't get it right. It is incredibly frustrating and I'm constantly defending myself.
I also need to point out that I am not a hero because I'm a Type 1 diabetic. I'm not brave because of it, and I'm not a survivor (technically I still alive so I am a survivor of the disease but we're all still alive so we're all survivors in a way... that's for another post). I have no choice. I have this disease and I either manage it or I die. That doesn't make me brave. However, if you want to extend me a compliment, you can be sympathetic to the next Type 1 you meet. Ask him/her questions. And by all means don't question their dietary choices.
I'd love to hear from other Type 1 diabetics. Let me know in the comments if there are any of you out there in Hey Wandererland. I'd love to chat with ya.