Thursday, 24 June 2010


I've been thinking about control recently, or rather, other people's perceptions of control. Leaving aside the difference between controlling diabetes and managing it, because I think we do the latter and not the former (but that's a post for another day), I've been surprised on a couple of occasions recently by how non-diabetics understand it.

A girl in my lab recently went on a first aid course, and one of the things they learned was how to treat a diabetic having a hypo. When she came back we were chatting about it, and she said to me, "you must have really good control, because I've never seen you have low blood sugar or anything!" I had to laugh at this because I've had entire conversations with this girl while hypo, and she didn't have a clue. Further probing revealed that she thought a diabetic taking a hypo would be very, very obvious, and most likely involve passing out. It reminded me of Kerri from SixUntilMe's excellent vlog post while hypo, where she points out that even when quite sick, a diabetic can come across as being completely ok.

Another thing that occurred was a discussion with occupational health. I'm currently transitioning from being a PhD student to a post doc in my lab, and now that I'm a postdoc and actually employed, I have to go through all the things that new employees do, including checking in with occ. health. I've been through this before, so I knew what to expect. One of the questions I was asked was if I'd been hospitalised in the last year due to my diabetes, to which I replied "No, not in the last year." She then asked when I was last hospitalised, and I told her it was about 15 years ago (thanks to a nasty case of DKA, but again, a post for another day). She replied, "oh, so you're well controlled then!"

Both conversations made me boggle a little, if I'm honest. I work in a biochemistry lab, these are intelligent people who all have science degrees, so I always figured they would understand at least some of the science behind diabetes. But their idea of good control is not passing out or being hospitalised??

There is hope though. One of the guys made a comment about how diabetes was just about testing your BG and having a couple of injections a day. After I exploded explained to him that that was very much not the case, he became quite interested in it and we had a really good discussion. He did ask at the end "so what do you do if you're diabetic and you're not good at maths?" ;)

1 comment:

  1. It's amazing how well I can hold up a conversation when low. It's one of those things, I think, about living with an invisible condition - people can't see it so they don't know it's happening therefore we look normal all the time. Wouldn't that be nice!!