Liar, Liar: Responding to Insensitivity

This article was written exclusively for Information About Diabetes by Julia Flaherty, a type 1 diabetic college student, editor of the Arts and Entertainment section of her university's newspaper, blogger and promotions director.

I was appalled when sitting in a lecture a few weeks ago only to turn almost 180 degrees around in my seat to hear a person behind me promptly discuss with their friend about how they faked having juvenile diabetes to get out of a class.

"I told the professor I was low, and she let me go home," they said.

Low blood sugar, also referred to as hypoglycemia, is a medical emergency that results from a deficiency of glucose in the bloodstream. It is not a pleasurable experience, certainly not one you would dream about yourself.

To lie about having a chronic condition to get out of a class you chose to be at is both insensitive and nonsensical. Please leave, but don't make up an excuse for your laziness at the expense of the people you are unaware of around you.

Low Blood Sugar: What It's Really Like

Certainly this person did not know I have juvenile diabetes. I did not bother to tell this person or their friend that I manage the condition on a daily basis and have since I was 10. Instead, I gaped at my professor's lecture, not because of the impressive simplicity of their bulleted lists on a PowerPoint, but due to the ignorance of this person sitting almost directly behind me.

If it is true that their professor let them leave lecture from this class, it seems all of them have misconceptions about the condition.

When I have low blood sugar, I stay in one place and eat a snack to bring my levels back up and stabilize them. I always carry something with me in case. Hypoglycemia can affect people with the condition in different ways causing anything from blurry vision to sweating, fainting spells, shaking, impaired judgment, loss of consciousness, sudden nervousness and more. Unfortunately, the list continues.

The last thing you would want to do is drive yourself back to your apartment, which is what they told their friend they said to their instructor. Driving with low blood sugar is a threat to yourself and other people on the road.

Misconceptions Are Everywhere

Maybe I'm nosy for listening or insensitive to their lack of knowledge about the condition, and to be fair and honest with myself, I can say I probably wouldn't know much about it if I or a family member or close friend weren't managing it.

Was it my responsibility to make them aware? Would it be someone else’s if I weren’t managing the condition myself? How sensitive do we need to be for one another?

Their lack of exposure and misconception inspired me to analyze the times I have heard juvenile diabetes mentioned as a subject of focus outside of my internal reality. I answered myself too quickly, slim to none.

Hardly do I see or read about a character in fiction writing or film who is managing the condition, and when they are represented, often their disease becomes them.

Diabetes Does Not Define Someone

Let me say now that having a chronic condition does not define you. You are not your disease. I am not mine.

I like to write, watch Alfred Hitchcock films, drink blueberry-flavored coffee and roll my eyes at puns I will probably never find funny. Most people do not know I have juvenile diabetes unless I tell them or take out my insulin pen or blood glucose monitor in front of them. I will let you in on a not-so-secret-secret, though: Juvenile diabetes does not have me.

It was like that since day one. I was diagnosed in January 2004, less than a month after my 10th birthday. At the time, I was using syringes to take insulin shots. I grabbed ahold of them responsibly, surprisingly ready for the challenge.

Little did I know what was in store, but I am proud to say I have been keeping myself healthy since my adolescence. I have had my weak moments. I think we all have, whether we manage a chronic condition or consider ourselves plain or ordinary.

Spoiler alert! You are not ordinary, whether you have juvenile diabetes or don’t. You should be proud of what makes you different, even about what makes you similar to others, because establishing a human connection is a special quality and sustenance for pleasurable living.

Be Yourself While Respecting Others

Still, I beg to this person not to lie about having a chronic condition, as it is defaming to the people who manage it with perseverance and strength every day. I encourage you all to be sensitive to the people around you. I encourage myself. It is difficult, but playing the blame game won’t help anything.

Despite my frustration, and how much I wanted to tell this person to shut up and drive instead of lying to drive away, I realize now that is not the key to making anything better for anyone. Living with this condition is better than surviving with it, and I am positive that we all can do the world a little better by acknowledging what makes us insanely human.

I am insanely human because of who I am, not because of my condition. My condition is a part of me, yes, but it is not the whole me, the Julia who loves to blog and wishes she knew more French and could travel to Europe to discover it more.

Whoever you are, whatever your circumstance, remember and recognize the people around you who make up the fabric of your environment contributing to your human experience, whether they are passive or active members of your life. Sensitivity matters 360 degrees around.

Photo: Pexels

Get A Free 7 Day Diabetes Meal Plan

Get a free 7-Day Diabetes Meal Plan from Constance Brown-Riggs who is a Registered Dietitian-Certified Diabetes Educator and who is also a national spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.

Just enter in your email below to download your free Diabetes Meal Plan.

By clicking Submit, you agree to send your info to InformationAboutDiabetes.com who may contact you with updates and information and we agree to use it according to our privacy policy.

More Articles

Well-controlled diabetes may depend on medication, but nutrition is perhaps the most important factor. There are many foods that can be added to...

Detoxification, or detox, diets are typically short-term diets that promise to rid the body of environmental toxins. Most detox plans begin with a...

Caring for children comes with its challenges, especially for babysitters. Things can get even more complicated when those children have diabetes...

The goal of the consistent carbohydrate diet (CCD) is to eat the same amount of carbohydrates at the same times each day. Although this diet...

Evidence is mounting that consuming black cumin helps to manage type 2 diabetes. The spice lowered blood glucose levels and blocked AGE glycation...

More Articles

Evidence is mounting that consuming black cumin helps to manage type 2 diabetes. The spice lowered blood glucose levels and blocked AGE glycation...

Food often becomes the focal point when it comes to discussing a diabetes diet, but the beverages you drink could be affecting your weight and...

When you are struggling with an illness like lupus, arthritis or asthma, the medications you take could have secondary effects on your body. What...

A healthy diabetes plan is essential in keeping low blood sugar levels, but...

Those who have not yet been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes can greatly reduce their susceptibility by doing one key...

Well-controlled diabetes may depend on medication, but nutrition is perhaps the most important factor. There are many foods that can be added to...

With such a marked increase in the number of new diabetes cases, more people are wondering if type 1 diabetes...

The liver is the largest single organ, and largest gland, in the human body. Perhaps because of its central role in so many aspects of metabolism...

The goal of the consistent carbohydrate diet (CCD) is to eat the same amount of carbohydrates at the same times each day. Although this diet...

Modern fitness culture has popularized a wide range of high-intensity activities, from Crossfit and spin-class to marathon running and exercise...

The most well-known variations of diabetes are type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes....

Diabetes is a health condition that disrupts the body’s normal production of insulin. Currently, more than one million Americans are diagnosed...

Taking insulin on a sliding scale means the size of an insulin dose depends on a person’s current glucose reading. The number of prescribed...

Anyone can develop a fungal skin infection, but people with diabetes are more prone to them. A common cause of fungal infections in those with...

With diabetes, it all used to be really simple: Type 1 diabetes was known as “childhood-onset,” and type 2 was “adult-onset” diabetes. The cause...