Diabetes is not a choice-part 2 Kalisha Naicker

2016-05-31 06:00

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FOLLOWING my last column related to diabetes, I was inundated with emails from readers that have had similar experiences, as people don’t really get what diabetes is.

I was also interviewed on Voice of Wits (VOWFM) following my column and the stigmas relating to the disease.

What irks me is that people who think they know what’s good for me when they have no clue. Sometimes, medical problems aren’t as bad as how other people react to it. Have you had experiences like these?

• Discrimination: “Sorry, we didn’t invite you to go out with us because you can’t eat certain types of food and we will feel bad to order if you can’t.” Some prejudices can be seriously harmful and it hurts emotionally.

• Food police: “Should you be eating that?” People who think they know better than you about what you should eat and keep questioning you on your every move.

• Food sabotage: People who seem to think it’s their job to get you to “lighten up” about your diet. “C’mon, you know you love chocolate cake. Just a tiny bit will be okay.”

• Needle phobia: Some people find it hard to be around people who are injecting insulin or checking their blood sugars. They hate needles and blood and will tell you so with words or nasty stares.

• Knowing what you should do: People who consider themselves diabetes “experts.” They have cures they found on the Internet or warnings about complications (that you already know about, of course). They think they know diabetes better than you do and know you better than you know yourself.

Like I often get told to drink black coffee or lots of water! How will that cure my illness?

However, there are some people who ask: “Are you interested in hearing something good I found about diabetes?” or something like that. It is the better approach. Don’t just start in giving unwanted advice.

• Helping: Sometimes helping is not always wanted. Being diabetic is not a form of disability so don’t belittle people because of their illness.

The bottom line is that people with such stigmas are ignorant. My advice is to read up and learn everything there is to know about the illness even if it does not affect you personally. One may never know when they could use this knowledge- and this could be lifesaving one day.

If you have an illness you think people should know more about or would like to comment on this column, please email Kalisha.naicker@media24.com.

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