Are you a bad Diabetic?
The terms ‘good diabetic’ and ‘bad diabetic’ are thrown around a lot. Maybe it’s a group of friends sat around and one tests their blood sugars revealing they’re 15.5mmol/l so they exclaim “I promise I’m not a bad diabetic!”. Or maybe a mum sat scrolling through their child’s meter or sensor graph celebrating because on the child’s first sleepover they’d been a good diabetic.
But what do we truly mean when we use these?
We use ‘bad diabetic’ as a throwaway comment. But does it have a definition? A blood sugar above 15 perhaps. Maybe an A1c on the higher side. Is it eating a chocolate bar despite being out of range either way? A day of off blood sugars that you have to fight, or choose not to. Does that mean you’re a ‘bad diabetic’?
Personally I thinks it’s ludicrous that one mistake, one bad decision or a struggle to maintain good control leads to you believing you are or being called a ‘bad diabetic’.
I don’t understand why we fling this phrase around at anything that isn’t perfect with our control. Yet I’m guilty of it too. But with this logic, we’re all ‘bad diabetics’! Everyone slips up, or has that day of not giving a care for their blood sugars.
We, after all, only human.
Equally on the other hand does everyone who can correctly give insulin for a pizza once jump for joy at being a ‘good diabetic’? With numbers that are generally in range or a will of steel to overcome the less fun blood sugars, you are put into the imaginary category of ‘good diabetic’, something that some people strive to achieve. But is it all that good?
When we claim to be a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ diabetic or use it as a descriptive term for somebody else’s control, we might have harmless intentions. But is it affecting our attitude to diabetes? Even subconsciously?
You would think having labels such as these would be positive, either motivating us to work harder at becoming a ‘good diabetic’ or celebrating at our success. But that’s not what I think. (Please bear in mind these are my own views and are not representative of anybody else).
I think they are detrimental to our health. Genuinely. The people perceived as the ‘bad diabetics’ of the world, the momentary ones to those who feel permantely in that zone are being scolded. Punished by a title. How is this in any way, shape or form, fair? It becomes an excuse to not think about diabetes, a mindset, a routine that you get stuck into of bumbling your through the condition not really worrying about it because you’re a ‘bad diabetic’ already! What’s the point?
As for the ‘good diabetics’ of the world – are there any negatives to this, you ask? Well. Indeed there are. I, myself am often described as a ‘good diabetic’, on top of my condition and always managing it. But sometimes the pressure to stay like this is insane, diabetes can come to feel like it’s your whole world and it can feel like it’s diluting your life. The smallest of mistakes can feel like the biggest of failures.
Of course you can switch between these two categories, I definitely do. But why is this even an option? Why do we have categories?
Blood sugars are just numbers. A measurement. Carbohydrates are just numbers. Diabetes is just a medical condition. So why do we almost turn it into a measurement of our worth? A measurement of our determination and skills?
The question shouldn’t be “are we ‘good diabetics’ or ‘bad diabetics’?” There shouldn’t be a question. We are people required to live and think like an organ. We are just diabetics. No fancy titles, no questioning and no judging. After all, we’re only human!