Writing a massive post to compensate for three months of nothing. Sorry team, life is crazy.
I’m at that age now where most of my friends have graduated university/are in their final year.
More than half of my friends have gone into healthcare – nursing mostly, but there are some physios, dietitians, doctors, and paramedics sprinkled throughout there as well. I like to bluff my way through conversations with their uni friends and see how long it takes them to figure out that I’m not a nurse or dietitian #diabetesperks.
In the past four years, it’s been really interesting to watch how people that I have been friends with for years have gradually reacted to my diabetes. When I was diagnosed, it was the last year of high school and we were all too focused on getting into uni. It fell into the background, thank god.
But I can always tell now when they’ve had a lecture on something that involves diabetes, or had a patient with diabetes, because the next time they see me their eyes will widen, they’ll grab my hand, and say something like “Please look after yourself, we saw a diabetic foot infection and I nearly spewed”.
There are fantastic parts to this – a friend I’ve known since I was 4 years old is finishing up her nursing degree, and she’ll blurt out things like “I saw someone with kidney failure today, I love you, please keep plugging away at those BGLs” then give me a massive hug. One of my best friends is a physio – she keeps Diet Coke/Coke Zero in her fridge at all times for me, texts me when yet another blood test strip turns up under her sofa cushion, and will expertly steer a conversation with other HCP friends away from the ‘exciting’ topic of t1d and pregnancy if I am in the room (it scares me). My friends know about the basics* – I don’t have to try and explain why I’m acting weird if my blood sugar is low, they’ll just throw me a juice box and continue chatting, which is 100% perfect!
I feel like I’m in a really fortunate position, because I can influence how my friends interact with their patients as healthcare professionals – they KNOW me, I am a person to them, and so when they walk into a room and their patient has type 1 diabetes, I’d like to think they have that little bit of extra empathy. My friends have seen me hypo, they’ve seen the pump and injection bruises on my stomach, and they know that it’s a disease that’s not to be joked about. They call their other HCP friends out for me, they’re amazing. What’s more, they always want to learn – they ask me about my diabetes in general, about my carb counting, how temp basals work. and I love it. To my knowledge, they’ve always aced the questions on exams about diabetes!
However, there are crap parts to this as well. It’s not my friends, it’s their friends. Remember what I said about bluffing my way through nursing talks? Yeah, having HCP friends gives you an insight into how other nurses, doctors etc. talk about patients. I totally understand they need to blow off steam – hell, the shit they have to put up with (figuratively AND literally) is insane, they do an incredible job. But hearing nurses make fat diabetes jokes is only fun when I pull my meter out and watch them squirm uncomfortably and say “But we didn’t mean YOU”.
I find med students are the worst though – not so much joking about the patients, but thinking that they know everything. I was sitting with some friends at uni in first year, and there were some of their friends there who I didn’t know. I pulled my meter out to test, and without even asking, one of them leaned over, looked at my BGL and went “That’s pretty high, you should really be taking care of yourself better”… my BGL was in the 9s… WTF BUDDY YOU HAVE BEEN IN MED SCHOOL FOR THE GRAND TOTAL OF 8 WEEKS STFU.
Saying that though, I am so lucky to be in the position where I can influence future healthcare professionals just by being their friend and happening to have type 1 diabetes. I am lucky to have friends like I do, that are fantastic healthcare professionals but also fantastic friends. If you live in Australia and end up in hospital, where a nurse doesn’t tell you off for a 8.5, or stands up to the doctor when they insist you disconnect and go onto a sliding scale of insulin even though you’re only in to get your wisdom teeth out, they’re probably one of my friends.
*not just my HCP friends, I have some other non HCP friends who are fantastic, shout out to Dais, Corks, and all the girls I lived with in the UK. x