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Onto The Street Blog

The Diabetes Third Wheel

Diabetes Table Talk
Sometimes diabetes is a world unto itself, complete with its own lingo. I was reminded of this the other night at dinner, a dinner that included three people living with type 1 diabetes and one person without diabetes. While we always try and talk about normal subjects,  diabetes is never far away and always seems to come up. Here we are,  three Type 1’s talking about extended bolus or hybrid closed loop or the difference between Humalog and Novolog all while never thinking about our third wheel, and most likely has no clue what the heck is going on.

No Offense 
I have seen this dynamic play out at many diabetes related events. There is just something comforting about being around other people who live what you live. There is no constant need to explain things there is no need to worry about whether they’ll be offended if you inject, no worries if your alarm is going off, it’s just part of the norm at these events. 

My Cat Has Diabetes
Diabetes may be prevalent,  but there are many times when a person with diabetes feels like a stranger in a strange land. Each of us has a story where a complete stranger,  who knows nothing about us, begins giving advice about how to manage our diabetes. There is an equal number of us who have had to explain that no, that is not a nicotine patch but an insulin pump or CGM!  And of course, each time we mention that we have diabetes, two things happen – the person will often apologize and yep, you guessed it, lead into that story about the neighbors cat, third uncle or twice removed aunt that has diabetes.

The Dinner Table Turns
Yet, at dinner the other night the shoe was on the other foot, and frankly I felt sorry for our non-diabetic guest. For as much as you try and explain what our lives are really like, until you experience it, you really never can fully understand or appreciate it. Diabetes is not just chronic disease that requires management 24 hours a day 365 days a year with no days off,  it’s a lifestyle complete with its own lingo, slang terminology etc. So, it’s understandable that someone who does not have diabetes might look at us and think that we are nuts.

The Diabetes Club 
It's also the reason that when you get a group of diabetics together,  it’s such a refreshing experience. They really  “get it”, they are not just trying to be nice, they have lived it. They don’t say “oh I’m sorry you went low the other night”,  they nod their head and ask what’s your favorite low food. Yet, we never think of the person who’s touched by diabetes but does not have it and how they might feel like a stranger in a strange land as well. These are People Touched by Diabetes (PTDs) who care about us, who truly want to understand and help when they can. 

Bringing Light to Diabetes 
Frankly,  this is the reason The Diabetes Way came into being. I don’t expect those who are touched by diabetes to fully understand everything that those with us living with diabetes go through every minute of every day. Our goal at The Diabetes Way is to help those who might not ever be able to understand what diabetes feels like, to be able to understand our lives. To bring light into the darkness.