In a few weeks I am slated to speak to a group of middle school students about diabetes. I’m not entirely sure what to expect when I stand up in front of this group. I know I probably should avoid talking about diabetes in my typical colorful adult way, so I’ve been trying to think about where my head was when I was in 6th, 7th, and 8th grade. Go ahead, try to think about that. It’s a brain full.
Today’s #HAWMC blog post challenge asks health activists to “Write your own health Q&A. Your question can be a real, genuine one about your condition or you can make it a strange, humorous, or satirical health question. Once you’ve asked the question – answer it however you want to.”
Given the challenge, I am going to try and imagine what kinds of questions I might get from 150 middle school students so I can try and craft a response that is middle school age appropriate. I don’t expect that every question is going to have an easy answer, so I don’t want to end up saying something like, “Hell if I know. Diabetes sucks. Next question!”
Ask a Diabetic Librarian
Question: How did you get diabetes?
Answer: My pancreas stopped producing insulin when I was a baby, which is necessary to convert the food I eat into energy so that I can do fun things like play sports, ride my bike, and lead a healthy and active life. Since my pancreas does not produce insulin, I have to take injections of insulin with a shot or my insulin pump.
Question: Do you use drugs?
Answer: In short answer, yes, but not the bad kinds of drugs. Not all drugs are bad, and some are necessary to keep people like me alive. The drug I use to help me live with my diabetes is a hormone called insulin. Without insulin, I would not be here today.
Question: Can you eat sweets?
Answer: Absolutely! However, like anyone, we should only eat sweet foods like candy and cake in small amounts. Nobody needs that stuff, but it is a delicious treat every once in awhile. With diabetes, I simply have to know how many carbohydrates are in the food that I eat. That way, I know how much insulin I need to take to convert that food to energy that I can use.
Question: What happens if you don’t take insulin?
Answer: Have you ever had your finger pricked at the doctor? I know it can be scary, but that finger prick and that tiny blood drop tells us what our blood sugar level is. That is very important for people with diabetes. We use that number, along with what we eat, to determine how much insulin we need. Insulin is responsible for lowering blood sugar levels. Without insulin, our blood sugar would rise to dangerous levels, and eventually cause serious health problems.
Question: Can you die from diabetes?
Answer: Yes, you certainly can. You can also die if someone drops a piano on your head, or if you lose a wrestling match with an angry bear. Having diabetes, by itself, does not mean you are going to die. In fact, people lead amazing lives with diabetes every single day. People with diabetes can be musicians, actors and actresses, pro athletes, or anything else they want to be. As long as you take care of your diabetes, you can live a long and healthy life, and do just about anything you can imagine.