Misconceptions about diabetes aren’t funny

misconceptions about diabetes Diabetes Advocacy

Last night, I was watching a promo for a new comedy show.  The show looked like it would be really funny.  I have seen some of the clips that the network has shared over the past few months. I laughed at a lot of them.  Tonight however, one clip caught me off guard. It showed a blatant misconception about life with diabetes and I wondered if I was just being silly.

“I need to get my insulin”

The scene had a woman trying to go into a room.  The room was already filled with people who were in some sort of conflict.  She told the people in the room that she needed to get in because “I need to get my insulin“. My ears instantly perked up. There is going to be a character on the show who needs insulin??  How cool was that!!

Sadly my excitement was short lived.  When the lady saw the turmoil in the room she exited stating that she would just go and “eat an orange”.

Insulin will not cure hypoglycemia

Those of us who live in the world of diabetes know that if she ate the orange she would need insulin…unless of course, she was low (hypoglycemic) and then she didn’t need the insulin to begin with.

I get that it is just humor.  I further understand that 99% of the audience won’t even notice the error.  It still bothered me.  I sent the show a message telling them of the error.  So far they haven’t answered.

Misconceptions about diabetes can be dangerous

Diabetes can be funny.  When my son shot blood across the table when testing his finger, we all laughed…yes its a bit morbid but we laughed.  I don’t think that spreading misconceptions about any condition is funny, however.

Diabetes has many, many myths surrounding it.  People with diabetes (both Type 1 and Type 2) face them every day.  We don’t need mainstream media fueling the fires with more false information.

I don’t think that I am being overly sensitive.  I have read of other people with diabetes watching the show and being equally annoyed.  I am all about laughter and fun but I really, really don’t like it when it is done at the expense of others.

Some will say, lighten up. No one was hurt by this.  That is not exactly true. What happens if my son is low at work? Will his colleagues think that he needs insulin to get him through rather than passing him a juice box? Misconceptions are dangerous for those living with the disease.  People living with diabetes live with enough blame and guilt.  We really don’t need mainstream media continuing to blur the water.

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2 thoughts on “Misconceptions about diabetes aren’t funny”

  1. Maybe, it was supposed to be an inside joke. I once walked up to a member of our type 1 support group before a meeting when he was intently reading something the presenter had brought with her. His insulin pump was on his hip. I said to him, “Hey is that thing on your hip a cel phone?” He said without turning around, “No, it’s a. . .” And, then, he realized who was talking and where he was and realized I got ‘im. LOL! See? An inside joke. Maybe, somebody writing this show put that in there to make fun of those who don’t understand the slightest thing about type 1 diabetes. You’re right though. A lot of people who don’t know what they are doing might give someone who is very low insulin. People who have watched my husband’s bad insulin reaction years later have come up to me and apologized for not knowing what to do in the situation or having made some unhelpful remark. My husband and I are like my mother and, probably, your son. We would like to look after ourselves ourselves. Unfortunately, with hypoglycemic unawareness, you can’t. You need to have people around you who are informed about your medical condition and know what to do to treat it. I remember years ago a lovely young lady doing our French course with us and eating with us told us the first meal, “If I ever pass out–I’m not likely to–, but if I ever pass out, take this little pill from this case I wear around my neck and put it under my tongue. You could save my life.” She was right. She never passed out. I still wonder what medical condition she had. Your son has to be pro-active in the same way. He has to tell his classmates and teacher what to do if he passes out or acts funny suddenly. If he manages his t1d properly, he’s unlikely to be experiencing a high blood sugar episode, but he could be experiencing a low blood glucose episode or insulin reaction. Therefore, the colleagues should call 911 on their cellphone (they all have one!) or if he’s only a bit low get him something sugary to drink like a can of pop. Your son could just hand a card out to everybody he comes in contact with that says they should get him a can of pop or glucose tablets in his backpack if he goes low. I carry Boost with us for occasions when my husband might go low. I hardly ever use it. (When you are so low you can’t help yourself, then, you need more than 4 glucose tablets I find.) Even if you were willing to do it, I don’t think your son would like you shadowing him like I shadow my husband. And even when I keep a close watch on my husband, he has some very bad lows. Hypoglycemic unawareness is no joke indeed.

  2. If this young lady in the show wasn’t low and wanted to eat an orange, then, indeed, she would need her vial of insulin and a syringe or her insulin pen to give herself a shot as she ate the orange. Maybe, it’s been a while since you took insulin by pen or syringe so you don’t remember how cumbersome it all was. . . One thing that isn’t mentioned in why you need insulin is that some food has come in from who knows where. My husband went high at about 7 am from chips he’d eaten the day before around 2 pm or maybe, from the peanuts he’d eaten at 8 pm.. Yeah, some people’s stomachs don’t empty as fast as they should. The diabetic’s world just gets crazier as the years roll by.

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