Nadine Pedersen, mother of a young person with type 1 diabetes, talked to CBC's The Early Edition about breaking stereotypes around the disease and stopping sugar-related jokes.
In the morning on Wednesday, with my 13-year-old son Hudson, who lives with Type 1 diabetes, I was taking the CBC Radio to the school when we heard a quip about how Diwali sweets would cause diabetes.
Hudson and I looked at each other and started to moan because such comments were very common and so were the bases.
A common mistake, as when someone is making a joke that is not very knowledgeable. It just sighs.– Hudson Carpenter
Since Hudson was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of eight, we have seen people who think that their medical condition is the result of good nutrition.
In fact, Type 1 diabetes is not related to the diet. This is a desperate, life-threatening, super-challenging auto-immune disorder.
People develop Type 1 diabetes after immune system attacks and kill insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Without insulin, people die because their body cannot convert food into energy.
Living with Type 1
To survive, you have to sew Hudson's fingers and make blood tests several times a day.
The insulin pump is connected to the arm 24 hours a day and has a continuous glucose monitor attached to the arm.
Hudson must calculate carbohydrates in everything he put in his mouth to give the correct dose of insulin.
In the middle of the night, we are usually trying to block blood sugar or high blood sugar – one of which can be fatal.
It's very scary because you can sleep and you never wake up, and it's every night.– Hudson Carpenter
In one of the social media accounts I ran to create awareness about diabetes, sometimes I publish pictures of blue candles.
These candles indicate the passage of children who die from diabetes. Sometimes these kids are low in blood in the middle of the night. At other times, this is because of the misdiagnosis of the symptoms of Type 1 diabetes as influenza.
These children go into a coma and never leave.
As you'd expect, these stories are not so funny.
People do diabetes as a reflex without thinking what they are saying.
They do not realize that these jokes continue to be misinformed about a really complicated and difficult disease.
Some people feel like "OK" to make jokes about diabetes because associating Type 2 diabetes with overweight people – and fattening is one of the last areas people think is acceptable for others to fool and have fun.
Obviously, this is unacceptable. It is also wrong – people can be thin and active and can still develop Type 2 diabetes.
Time to start breaking stereotypes around diabetes.
Insensitive comments and jokes about diabetes are extremely common in our society. When you listen to them, you start to notice them.
Hudson and I see them all the time.
Files with Early Version