Divided and United – By Andy Broomhead


Despite being a member of a “club” along with about 4 million other people in the UK, having diabetes is a very individual thing. The intricacies of the treatment varies from person to person (think insulin to carb ratios) and some will have symptoms that others don’t (e.g. hypo awareness).

How we each manage our own conditions, and everything else that comes with it, is a very personal thing to us. The people we interact with and discuss our daily highs and lows (pun not intended) is also an individual thing. Some choose to talk openly to the #doc (diabetic online community), others attend local meetings and some may only share with their nearest and dearest.

Despite the myriad individual things that set us all apart from other diabetics, I recently realised that there are a lot of things that do unite us. I think it probably helps to remember when we’re having a bad day that there’s someone else who’s been through the same things we have, and that should make us feel a little less alone in the universe. What follows is a list of things that I think we’ve all done or experienced at some point in our diabetic journey (the list is a little Type 1 specific as I’m speaking from experience, but I’ve tried to include the Type 2 ones I’ve discussed with others)

• Being told “you can’t eat that” or “should you be having that?!”
• Testing your BG only to get a reading in the 20s that you can’t possibly explain
• …and conversely, getting a low BG reading when you have no hypo symptoms
• Writing down your insulin dose in a diary but forgetting to actually administer the dose (really hoping that’s not just me!)
• Waking up in the middle of the night and losing an hour of precious sleep to deal with a hypo
• Hearing that you have the “naughty” type of diabetes (something I’ve heard said to Type 2s a few times!)
• Concocting an elaborate excuse ahead of annual review time to explain a wayward HbA1c
• Having a particularly bad day where you end up saying “sod it, I’m having chocolate”
• Stacking insulin doses so you end up with low blood sugar
• Having a BG reading that’s either so high or so low that you do a double take on your meter
• Wasting a test strip because you don’t get quite enough blood on the end
• Being slightly irritable and having someone tell you to test your BG because they think your sugars are too high/low
• Getting blood on your clothes after a bolus injection or a cannula change
It’s obviously not a comprehensive list but hopefully it does illustrate that whilst we have our own individual plans for dealing with our diabetes, there are some moments we all share.

It can be hard to feel like you’re always in control of every aspect of your diabetic life and it can be quite easy to feel like you’re the only person in the world who is struggling with something. Hopefully you might recognise a few of the things from the list above and realise that while we’re all individual, we’re also all united by the same things that diabetes forces upon us every day.

Can you think of any I’ve missed?

You might also like

Alan – that’s a good one. I’m definitely guilty of that from time to time. I can occasionally get like that when I’m sky high too!

Steve – good comment! I think that the lack of awareness of the potential causes of Type 2 means that some people aren’t going to listen. Given the number of people at risk/undiagnosed then I suspect a few commenters will find themselves facing up to the reality of T2 in the near future.

Thanks both for your comments :-)

Hi Andy
Luckily I am type two, but I can still sympathise with you over many of your comments, but no matter what we have there is always someone worse off.

I do find it hard to keep my mouth shut when I now see an over weight person stuffing themselves with sugar rich food, then call me a wimp for refusing a dessert.

One thing not on the list that often worries me, is the unpleasantness I sometime show to loved ones when I am low.

My partner has ways of telling I am low. I tend to yawn a lot as well as being vague. But when she tells me to go and do a test I sometimes react with irritation.

Always feel guilty after.