Since I was diagnosed, I have gotten a lot of questions from my friends and family about what they can do to be supportive. Let’s be honest here: there is no way for you to fully understand what I am going through unless you also have T1D! However, I have thought of a few things that might help you help me:
- Educate yourself about Type 1 diabetes
Although I love talking about it, having to explain the basics of Type 1 over and over again can get tiring. Do some research and read about it online. Some of the main points to understand are that Type 1 is unpreventable, unpredictable, and (currently) incurable. I have to test my blood sugar regularly and take insulin several times a day. It is also important to understand the differences between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, as they are very different diseases.
Diabetes Canada has lots of resources, and that is a good place to start. Another resource with plenty of candid stories and educational tools is Beyond Type 1. In fact, Beyond Type 1 has a wonderful guide just for family and friends!
- Understand if I cancel plans
One of the downsides of type 1 is that I often do not get enough sleep. There are many nights where I am up at 3 AM dealing with low blood sugars. So sorry, but sometimes I am just too tired to come to your event even though I accepted the invitation weeks ago!
- Don’t obsess over dietary friendly dishes you can serve me when I come over
I can and will eat anything you put in front of me. Don’t worry about it.
- Don’t feel bad about accidentally offering me sweets
This happens a lot at work. A colleague will come by offering fresh donuts and when they reach my desk everything gets awkward. It’s okay! Sugar is not going to kill me. One of three things will likely happen:
- I will politely decline.
- I will take one and eat it later.
- It will disappear so fast you won’t even know what happened. Better count your fingers just to be sure!
You don’t feel bad offering goodies to the uber health nut two cubicles over, so don’t feel bad about offering goodies to me! I love goodies!
- Don’t take it personally if I refuse to eat something you are offering me
Sometimes I will say no to that homemade piece of deliciousness you are offering me. Don’t feel offended! I may be having a bad blood sugar day, or may not have my insulin handy to correct for it. It may just be easier for me to not indulge. I still like you as a person!
- Realize my crankiness is (probably) not your fault
High and low blood sugars make me do all kinds of crazy things. Being moody is one of them. Sorry in advance for what I said while I was low!
- Be patient if I am forgetful or seem to be struggling with basic cognitive tasks (like giving directions)
Being diabetic means I constantly have a million things on my mind, so sometimes other things fall through the cracks. Also, low blood sugars make my brain act stupid and slow, so give me 15 minutes for the sugar to kick in and ask me again!
- Don’t get all weird about me testing my blood sugars or administering insulin in public
I used to be really shy about doing this in public, but the desire to not miss out on conversations and actually enjoy hot food has led me to start testing and bolusing discreetly at the table rather than going to the restroom. By all means: if needles make you extremely uncomfortable let me know and I will go elsewhere, but if there is no danger of you throwing up or passing out at the table I am going to do it!
- Ask me if I have tested my blood sugar if you notice me being cranky, dazed, forgetful, shaky, sweaty, or just generally out of it
I may not realize my blood sugar has gone low and sometimes need a reminder to check. Thanks!
- Donate to my fundraising campaign for the CIM adventure team!
The best way to support me right now is to support my fundraising campaign! You can donate online here: give.classy.org/cimshaleen. Help me reach my goal of raising $2500! Thank you in advance!