When you have Diabetes, life finds a way to remind you every day that you have to deal with Diabetes. And me having it is not as much a tragedy as it is just annoying. On my flight home from Taiwan, when I was casually injecting myself with insulin so I could eat, the flight attendant asked if I could shoot up my heroin privately in the bathroom. Or when Airport security detained me for an hour in order to figure out why I was carrying 5,000+ jelly beans.
“Are you sure this isn’t Marijuana?”
Then there was that time when I had to go through the same process as an ex-con would have to go through to get their license, complete with an interrogation and an oath. Then, everything took a turn for the worst, when the waitress at Joe’s Taco Lounge told me she could hook me up with a heroin rehabilitation support group. I tried to explain that I wasn’t a victim of America’s opioid crisis, but she just served me the shrimp burrito and walked away in disgust. I’d still rather go there than Grilly’s.
After a while, I started to get the impression that people didn’t really know how Diabetes worked. I mean, dudes in hoodies ask me if I ever get high on my insulin, and then ask where they can get some. I think that speaks for itself. Everyday curious folks ask why I have a GoPro mount on my stomach, or why I carry around an emergency fanny pack everywhere that I go. These are totally reasonable questions, and I always give the same answer: I say “I have Diabetes,” and then continue to give some dumbed down explanation about how it all works. And I’ve been doing this for a year. In fact, this October marks my one year Diaversary. I even got a card:
“Don’t forget, you’re Dia-beautiful.”
And when my Diaversary rolls around, there’s a hilariously ironic way to make sure I don’t forget the special occasion: Halloween.
It’s the only day of the year where people stop asking me if I’m a diabetic, and start telling me. This Halloween, most will probably be wearing Fortnite costumes, but for me, it seems everybody decides to dress up as my resident endocrinologist. Whether it’s because they read a “How to prevent diabetes by avoiding these foods!” pop-up ad, or they took Honors Physiology, they feel very comfortable telling me how to manage my Diabetes. I can’t even eat a Snickers in peace before somebody flies across the room and smacks it out of my hand like it’s poisoned.
“Hey Max, do you want a… Oh snap, my bad man. Forgot about the whole (makes an injecting motion) thing.”
“I thought you couldn’t eat that.”
I usually tell them it’s fine, and that that’s not how it works. But then they wonder how it works, and my explanation makes it sound like that is exactly how it works. See my point? Nobody really knows how it works, and it’s led to misconceptions. These misconceptions lead to my friends becoming dietitians for one night every year. It’s not that I’m ungrateful to the people that care about me, I just think they’re misinformed. Like the guys who wanted to buy some insulin off me, people just need a quick physiology breakdown.
I’ll attempt to do this in the most basic way possible. There are two types of diabetes: The first being Type 2. This is what you know as Diabetes. Just to ensure you know which type we are talking about, this is the one that’s always brought up in The Office. This is what everybody thinks all diabetics are, which is not a completely outrageous statement, as 95 percent of Diabetics in America are. In this case, your body doesn’t stop producing insulin, but you are no longer effectively able to use it due to diet and exercise, or rather the lack thereof. Type 2 is curable. However, my type is not. Type 1 is autoimmune, meaning your immune system really screwed up and killed your own cells. Type 1 diabetics don’t produce any insulin, and can no longer regulate their blood sugar levels. Insulin (think Uber Eats but for your body) is a hormone that delivers glucose from the bloodstream to your cells. This is why I have to inject myself with heroin, I mean, artificial insulin. I can’t say for sure that it wasn’t caused by my diet, because not even doctors know exactly what causes either kind of Diabetes, but I can tell you that eating candy wouldn’t hurt me any more than it would a perfectly healthy kid, so long as I dose my heroin, I mean Insulin, properly.
I can obviously see why people would confuse the two. Heck, before my Diaversary I was under the impression that Diabetes was exclusively for not-fitness oriented individuals too. In 8th grade I laughed at the MVMS Diabetes club for serving Donuts at lunch, because I didn’t get it then. But now since I’m Dia-woke, I get it, and it’s painfully funny to think about every time.
While managing Diabetes on Halloween is annoying, and managing the people around you is even more so, those times people thought I was a drug addict will make great stories for my grandchildren. Me and my grandparents with type 2 have plenty to talk about at Thanksgiving every year, and I have something in common with over 40 million Dia-beautiful Americans. Halloween isn’t much without candy, and I refuse to have to eat sugar-free options because of a misconception. I think I speak for a lot of other type 1’s when I say, “Chill out. We got this.” We’ll enjoy our candy alongside you, but in reasonable amounts, of course. You wouldn’t want to get Diabetes or anything.