Low-carb, no carb, whatever-works-carb

Low-carbing is great, except when it’s not.

Hear me out.

There have been more and more articles, observations, and studies about low-carb and it’s impact on diabetes management filtering through my social media lately. They show the incredible advantages of going low carb (see here for an easy-to-read NY Times article, and here for a study from the American Academy of Pediatrics), and people are evangelically yelling about it, questioning why we’re not put onto a super-low carb diet from the start, and why more people aren’t talking about it.

They have a point – why was I told to eat carbohydrates at every meal when I don’t need to? Low carb meals keep my BGL steady, and are delicious! However, a lot of these studies are missing the big point, and what we’re talking about here is CHOICE. Specifically, the food choices of children and their right to bodily autonomy.

Going low-carb has multiple benefits for management, that is obvious. However, life with diabetes isn’t just about managing your blood glucose levels. Life with diabetes is messy, incredible, and unpredictable – just like life without it. Eat low-carb with your kids, sure! As long as you are enjoying what you’re eating and it works, all the more power to you! But the moment that the low-carb lifestyle starts interfering in life experiences, when they’re scared to eat fish and chips on the beach or revel in Grandma’s custard tart, it’s gone from lifestyle to problem. I worry that by forcing kids to eat exclusively low-carb (the key words here are force and exclusively), we are setting them up for a disordered relationship with food. If your kid goes to a birthday party and is not allowed to eat the cake, and eats a low-carb ‘energy ball’ instead, that isn’t ‘ideal control’, that’s disordered eating. I’m sorry to drop a truth bomb on you, but there’s no other way around it.

that's all folks mic drop GIF by Kehlani

Face it – if your food is interfering with your life, that ain’t normal.

 

The possibility of disordered eating with a low carb diet is obviously not a rule – the child in the NY Times article above is happy and content with his diet, and all power to him. Yet he is choosing to eat like this, and there are many kids with diabetes that I have met through volunteering on camps that don’t have a choice, because their parents are so focused on ‘optimal’ diabetes management that they forget that their kid needs to live a little. Diabetes management isn’t just about numbers – it’s about your mental health as well! This lack of choice sends them one of two ways – either they are terrified of carbohydrates, or obsessed with them when they escape their parents’ watchful eye. I’m in the privileged position to have conversations with these kids that they may not have with their parents, and many of them lament their lack of freedom and choice in regards to food – “I wish I could just eat like I did before” and “I hate that they always know what I eat” is a common refrain. I understand why parents want to restrict certain types of food – the idea of your child getting complications must be terrifying, and you want them to be healthy! Unfortunately, we can’t stop our kids having diabetes, or counting their food – that is a necessary evil that has to stay with us! We can do something for our kids that heals their relationship with food though – and that is giving them back their choice.

By seeing foods i.e carbs as ‘bad’, these kids with diabetes are not only being led, but PUSHED, into diet culture. We can’t tell our kids to love their bodies and have a healthy relationship with food, but then simultaneously ban foods from their diet and put their bodies and management under a microscope.  To develop some sort of intuitive eating in people with diabetes, we need to make sure that their diabetes and the need for optimal management does not override their life experience and their mental health. People with diabetes are already more likely to develop an eating disorder – why are we adding fuel to the fire??

relaxed mad men GIF

Background – our relationship with food, up in smoke. Foreground – militant low-carbers ignoring that it’s not for everyone #sorrynotsorry

 

The study above was taken from an online low-carb group, and 42% of the participants were parents of kids with type 1 diabetes. Nearly half of the participants in this study do not have diabetes themselves – they want the best for their kids, but they are not the ones living each day with the condition. They are not the ones who sit with an overwhelming sense of guilt and shame if an item of food with a carb count >10g passes their lips. The question is begging to be asked –  if 97% of the participants achieved target BGLs, how many of them also developed a disordered relationship with food?

I’m not saying it’s a given or a rule that kids eating a low-carb diet will develop an unhealthy relationship with food, I’m saying that it’s a definite possibility. Eating disorders are rife in our community, and I’m hesitant to push a certain way of eating onto everybody, when everyone’s attitude to and history with food is different. Other people with diabetes have talked at me at length about how I should go ‘totally low-carb’, and then don’t know what to do with themselves when I say “Oh, well actually, I had anorexia as a teenager so any sort of food restriction for me is a no-go”. IT 👏🏻 DOESN’T 👏🏻 WORK 👏🏻 FOR 👏🏻 EVERYONE 👏🏻

People with diabetes are all different, and while extolling the virtues of a low-carb approach we need to keep in mind that it won’t suit everyone, and that the decision rests solely on the person with diabetes – not their parents, not their diabetes team, THEM. Parents, loved ones, HCPs, are there to help us along, give us information, work with us as well as they can – but at the end of the day, you’re raising someone with diabetes who is going to make food choices for themselves. Kids are incredible human beings – I work with them every day, they will do the sensible thing most of the time, and when they don’t? They learn from it.

I’m not asking you to let your eight-year old loose in the confectionary aisle, or letting your fifteen-year old exist solely on cereal and ramen noodles. I’m asking you to talk to your kid about what they like to eat, what makes them feel good, and how you can help them manage diabetes together so they maintain a semblance of a normal relationship with food. Low carb might work for some kids, but it may not work for others – and that’s ok. 

Giving kids some choice EMPOWERS them in their own diabetes! As a parent, you want to raise someone who will make their own decisions, who is independent, and who can take on the world, diabetes included right? By talking openly to your child, you can start that independence. Your child already makes more healthcare decisions in a day than their parents make in a year – so why not trust them?

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Euro Hypo

You know when you have one of those hypos where you’re sweating, you’re dizzy, and you can’t speak properly?

You know when that happens in a foreign country?

UGH.

Hypos have been strangely absent for the past few months. I’ve had some little ones, but I’ve always caught them with a well timed gummy bear (my French treatment are Carrefour gummy bears – they’re cheap and gross, just how I like my hypo food!). This one came out of the blue, and cost me precious euros!

I was walking towards the local park, to soak in some sun and finish my book (there’s a casual chateau in this park, surrounded by manicured gardens…I’m not fancy enough for this country!). As I crossed the street, I felt the telltale numb tongue, and my body began to sweat in a way that didn’t reflect the 20 degree day. I popped into the local Monoprix to my right, just to ‘get some hypo stuff’.

HA.

Hypo brain is like drunk brain. You’re still aware of what you’re doing, but your actions have a mind of their own. Just like when I watch myself buy a kebab at 3am and drunkenly gobble it down in my Uber, I watched myself buy not only hypo treatment, but also:

  • cookies
  • orange juice
  • guacamole (what the fuck???)
  • cheese (delicious, but what the fuck x2???)
  • raspberries
  • bolognese-flavour chips (France is strange)
  • strawberries
  • a bottle of rosé (classy hypo!)

WHAT THE HELL HYPO BRAIN!!

As I went up to the till to pay, I said in French “Sorry, I had to open the packet, my blood sugar was low” as I handed over the lollies. However, thanks to my rapidly decreasing BGL, it came out sounding like “Sorry…open…blood sugar…down”, and I dropped my guacamole on the floor.

Smooth.

As the cashier handed my back my stuff and my change, I stumbled out and willed my stupid legs to take me to the park just over the road. Like, I’m desperate for my blood sugar to go up, but not desperate enough to squat in a small cobblestone alley that smells like urine and wait 15 minutes. I have hypo standards, you know?

My sugars came up within the next 10 minutes, and to be honest, there’s no nicer way to feel them come up than lying in the sun and people watching. However, then I was left with hypo regret…I pulled the receipt out of my bag, and 20 EUROS stared back at me. 20 Euros on snacks I didn’t even want!! I’m au-pairing, and I’m broke as hell. All my money I save to put towards travel, and my spending money comes from cash work. I just blew an hour of work on budget snacks – it wasn’t even GOOD rosé!

Pro tip – don’t let hypo you make any decisions, or you’ll end up with a bag full of unwanted snacks that you sneak into your host family’s house and place surreptitiously around the kitchen. Please eat my snacks kids, hypo Georgie doesn’t check the use-by date.

Body Posi Betes

I’ve started a small project on body positivity within diabetes – you can find it here and here. Read below as to why I wanted to start it and what I’m aiming to do!

Why Body Posi Betes?

Body image and self-love is a struggle for all of us, but when you have diabetes? The dialogue surrounding our bodies and our health is often toxic, judgemental, and disrespectful.

Body Posi Betes promotes body positivity within the diabetes space. Body positivity is a simple idea – it’s all about self-determination and making peace with the body you live in. How do YOU feel about your body and your diabetes? We aim to break down the societal expectations that value certain bodies over others, and that make you feel like you are broken or ‘not enough’. It’s also about accepting ALL other bodies with diabetes, regardless of the unconscious internal prejudices you might possess. Let’s discuss why we feel the way we do about certain bodies, and why those feelings are bullsh*t.

Dialogue within our community can often be toxic, and BPB wants to create a safe place to discuss our obstacles, experiences, and challenges. We are intersectional, and acknowledge the privilege of some and the barriers of others.

We promote health at every size – there is no one way to have diabetes. Low carb, high carb, MDI, pump…whatever works for you is amazing! We come from a place of intuitive eating and movement, as much as we can with diabetes. Sometimes we might have to eat when we’re not hungry (damn hypos!), or move when we’d rather not (pesky highs…), but we want everyone with diabetes feeling empowered in their choices to love and look after their body in a way that works for them.

BPB aims to dismantle this often unrealistic, accusative, and fat-phobic diabetes space one post and discussion at a time, including the dialogue around complications.  Fatphobia is thriving in the diabetes space, and often if you’re overweight and have diabetes you feel a huge pressure to lose weight, often at the expense of your physical and mental health in order to gain the respect from others that often comes with thin privilege.

We’re worthy of respect, regardless of our weight or hbA1c.. Shame gets you nowhere. Support, positivity, and celebration get you a hell of a lot further.Screen Shot 2018-03-17 at 11.33.48 am.png

Make way for diabetes

Diabetes. It’s a jealous mofo and a bit of a drama queen. It can’t STAND not being thought about for a bit (at least, mine is! Maybe yours is less diva-esque?). In the past few months, it’s liked to pop up in a few interesting places and make itself known – just so I don’t forget I have it!

  • A lovely big hypo at Châtelet Les Halles – aka where I often change lines and the biggest underground train station in the world. Treating a 1.8 in a wet corridor that smells like urine is living the DREAM I tell you.
  • An unexpected HI before digging into galettes with friends. I dosed and ate them anyway. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
  • Ripping out my Libre when I decided to give my host kid a piggyback.
  • Whenever I’m bolusing and trying to speak French at the same time.
  • An insistent blocked line alarm on the RER (suburban train). I had put my site on my butt cheek….and I had to prime and reconnect on public transport, so the lucky  09:47 commuters got an eyeful. De rien, you’re all welcome.
  • Low battery alarm at 3am in a 12 bed hostel room. My neighbours were not impressed.
  • Accidentally ripping out my pump site on a branch whilst sitting by myself in the early morning admiring beautiful views in Glen Coe. The “FUCK!” definitely disturbed the serenity…
  • At the top of a mountain in the Scottish Highlands
  • At the BOTTOM of a mountain in the Scottish Highlands. One stubborn hypo!

    2.3 and totally worth it

I can’t lie, diabetes sure keeps life interesting – it made me cry with frustration last week (French bureaucracy is the WORST guys, don’t every try to get social security unless you want to spend days of your life filling out forms that promptly get lost). It’s also making me resilient – if you can deal with your diabetes elbowing it’s way into every situation possible, you can deal with pretty much whatever else your body throws at you.

burnout – à la française

 

 

IMG_6105.jpg

This is the first time I’ve tested in two days.

My head does something weird when mymental health ducks are all in a row – ‘oh, you’re feeling happy? Got some healthy coping strategies in place? DON’T FORGET ABOUT YOUR LACK OF BETACELLS, MOTHERFUCKER’.

I packed enough supplies, that’s not the issue here. The food here is fine – when I check my BGL and dose my insulin, it usually plays by the rules. The people here are lovely, and I’m not being shamed in any way by anyone. But something is a bit off kilter.

I guess I just resent my diabetes for getting in the way. I’m spending this year self-reflecting, taking joy in the little things, and figuring out my priorities. Every time I have a pinch-myself moment – the first snowfall, my host kid jumping on me for a hug, walking home past a casual château, making a joke in French and getting a laugh (underrated but a vital inclusion on any language learning checklist!!!) – diabetes seems to rear it’s ugly head. It could be a flat pump battery, host kid accidentally ripping out my site from aforementioned hug, a sneaky hypo, a wave of nausea from a kinked cannula…it feels like diabetes is shoving it’s way into this new life. Every time I test or bolus, I feel resentful. I resent that it has come along with me, as STUPID as that sounds.

I have to get back on the horse again. Tonight I tested, told myself “it’s just a number”, took my full dose of insulin, and drank some water. Tomorrow I’ll aim for two tests. I have this whole year to look after myself, and that needs to include diabetes as well.

 

 

…still hate it though.

 

My favourite discovery at the local Carrefour is HANDBAG SIZED WINE, PERFECT FOR A SNEAKY MERLOT IN THE PARK

 

P.S – look at how often I’m blogging over here, how amazing is FREE TIME?!)

Maximum impact, minimal effort

If I gave you a $5 note right now, what would you do with it?

Usually, I’d take it to the nearest café and order myself a large double shot latte. If I feel like living on the edge, I might even buy an avocado – hellooooo luxury!

Around this time of year, many people would put it towards some Valentines Day flowers. Society in general can make us feel as though we don’t believe in romance and hate life if we don’t acknowledge our partner on February the 14th (can you tell I’m not a fan of Valentine’s Day? See below image for an accurate portrayal of my last 25 Valentines dinners).

Screen Shot 2018-02-01 at 9.43.04 pm.png

However, I have a get out of jail free card for anyone who resents spending money on a token gesture. What if you could literally save a life with that money?

There is an incredible initiative Spare A Rose, Save A Child from the diabetes online community, (linked to Life For A Child ) that asks you to sacrifice one rose that you’d put in a bouquet, and put that money – around $5 – towards the wellbeing of a child with diabetes in a developing country. If you’re like me and emotionally dead inside, take the whole $60 you’d reluctantly spend on a bouquet and put it towards this initiative. You’ll be providing life for one child for an entire year. How? Your money provides:

  • regular insulin
  • quality blood glucose monitoring equipment (meter, strips, lancets)
  • essential clinical care
  • up-to-date diabetes education materials

There are people dying because they can’t access insulin. If they can access insulin, they are making huge sacrifices to do so and are dying way too early due to outdated equipment and healthcare. I whinge about the cost of my healthcare, but I am incredibly lucky to be able to afford it and there are systems in place to ensure I will always be able to access insulin. It is appalling and horrific that a lack of money means that people with diabetes are dying. Money should never be the reason that you lose someone you love.

I’ve written about this before, when the campaign first started, and I’m repeating myself because access for EVERYONE with diabetes is important, not just the privileged. Take that $5 note, donate it to Life For A Child, and tell your partner you’ve both just saved a life. That’s better than any bouquet you could buy.

Screen Shot 2018-02-01 at 10.39.24 pm

 

Diabetes distance

 

It’s taken moving halfway across the world to realise that I’m still not 100% comfortable with talking about my diabetes. At home, I’ll take out my pump or meter anywhere, and happily explain what it is to anyone that asks  – but here? I find myself being super subtle about it, and only saying “I have diabetes” if the conversation stops as I test my BGL or my pump beeps. I keep switching the subject anytime people push further. My first day at language school, a woman next to me asked why I was pricking my finger, and do you know what’s really hard? Explaining diabetes in French.

Obviously, my lingua franca with everyone who isn’t Anglophone is French (minus anyone from Scandinavia or Germany, because DAMN their English is better than mine) and I don’t have the nuances in expression yet to hit that balanced explanation of “It’s sorta serious but I manage it!”, so it ends up sounding like I’m either wearing a clumpy activity monitor or I’m hooked up to a machine that could kill me at any moment. I don’t want people to think I’m weird and/or broken, so it’s just easier to not make it obvious for now.

Diabetes frustrates me because it makes me different. I think we all want to fit in in some aspect, and here in France I don’t have a diabetes community around me yet. In Australia, around a third of my friends have diabetes so it’s not a big thing, but here? I’m already different – I come from halfway around the world, I have a funny accent, and I’m older than the majority of the people I hang out with. I don’t want to add a misunderstood and stigmatised chronic illness to the list.

Could I make diabetes less stigmatised and more understood if I talked about it more here? Sure. But the people I’ve met so far pick up on the fact I’m just doing what I need to do, and most of my daily diabetes stuff passes without comment. I do NOT want to be that person who talks about themselves. I’ve become expert at juggling my BGL meter on my lap whilst drinking coffee and speaking a mixture of French, English, and whatever first language the person across from me has (my Italian is improving!). I’m a person with diabetes first, and an advocate second, and sometimes I just want to exist, and practice my second language, without diabetes making itself known. This is a year off, in more ways than one. I feel guilty about this, because I feel like a hypocrite – how can I claim to be a diabetes advocate when I avoid talking about it? But I just CAN’T right now.

Online me will be as obnoxious as ever, but real life me is just going to take some time out. Please don’t ask me about the beeping in my bra – shall we go for crêpes instead?

 

Most importantly, I’ve figured out the carbs in a chausson aux pommes (apple pastry). 36 grams of deliciousness 🙌

 

2017 – study, stress, and stamina.

 

This year I’ve been hurtling through life at 100%, all guns blazing. I love being busy, but one thing has suffered, and it’s been my diabetes.

My day would typically involve teaching all day, replying to DEDA emails and posts from members while doing my grocery shopping, calling a parent on the drive home because I didn’t have time at lunch (debating coaching/production rehearsal/kids wanting a chat/meetings/anything OTHER than what was originally on my to-do list), and trying to smash out a few hundred words of a Masters assignment while eating another 10-minute-frozen-vegie-and-rice-poor-excuse-of-a-stir-fry. My mind would zero in on something that day – maybe I had said something ‘stupid’ in a staff meeting or someone in Coles had looked at me funny – and I’d lie in bed stressing over that one thing, tossing and turning until I eventually fell asleep.

My diabetes is super sensitive to stress. When I wear the Libre, you can literally see my BGL shoot skywards when I am confronted with a high stress situation, and no amount of bolusing or exercise will bring it down until the situation is resolved. The class where two students started fighting and I had to rip them apart?? >25 mmol for the rest of the day. The lead-up to co-ordinating Senior Diabetes Camp? Did not touch the blue zone once in a week! What’s more, this year has been a constant of background stress – there was always something in the back of my mind stressing me out, and my mental health would usually grab onto that and make it worse. Anxiety is a bitch!

However, since I’ve finished work,  I’ve been rolling from the couch to the shower and back again. My daily routine resembles a retiree, complete with an addiction to daytime lifestyle shows and meals made for one. I spent an hour this morning doing yoga, then plonked myself on the couch and napped. My BGLs? SO MUCH MORE PREDICTABLE. I feel like I’ve cracked the code as to why my diabetes has been hard to manage this year – I’ve completely neglected self-care! I ‘m not saying that it’s impossible to manage diabetes when you’re stressed, but DAMN not having ten balls to juggle whilst balancing on a Masters unicycle makes a difference! I’m able to breathe, and I’m so much more able to take a step back and realise that my health is the most important thing.

I’ve battled this year. I’ve been to the emergency department a few times thanks to gastro and pneumonia (thanks year 7s!), I’ve gained weight due to stress and aforementioned lack of self-care, and relationships have been short and blurry. My hba1c is in the 9s, and I’ve been out of range way more than I’d like.

However, I’ve achieved a damn lot. I spoke at an international diabetes conference, went to some local ones, and met amazing people while doing it (still pinching myself over that one!) I graduated from my Masters degree with first-class honours and only had a couple of breakdowns. Same-sex marriage finally went through in Australia and I started embracing my sexuality and feeling more accepted by the society I live and thrive in. I discovered more of myself – they say that your personality starts to settle around 25, and I believe it. I discovered what I value, and what I don’t. Turns out, I don’t stand for bullshit, run from the ideal of a white picket fence (give it ten years and “Cool Aunt Georgie” will be a thing), and am less of an introvert than I thought (still obsessed with cats and HGTV though, no-one panic). I discovered how liberating accepting your body is, and how invasively diet culture has permeated every aspect of my being. I gained a lot of weight, but I also gained a load of self confidence and respect for myself. I became a better teacher, as evidenced by the links with my students and the growth that they had, and made friends for life – some who are nearly 20 years older than me but made me realise that age is irrelevant. When you find like-minded souls, hold onto them!

I’m taking a year off teaching to move to France, au-pair, and figure out my next step. I adore teaching, I adore advocacy, and I’m taking a year to figure out how to fit those both in my life without sacrificing my health and happiness. I want to throw myself into both of these things, but without sacrificing my diabetes management and mental health, In the wise words of Ron Swanson from Parks and Recreation*

I’m going to spend 2018 figuring out how to whole-ass this whole teaching and advocacy thing, whilst thriving with diabetes. I’ve been half-assing my diabetes all year, and in order to whole-ass my life, I need to whole-ass my management too. A year to focus on myself, my health, and my next step? Sounds divine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

*If you do one thing in 2018, watch Parks and Rec. You’ll thank me later. 

DEDA minisode

On Sunday I did a short live minisode with Beta Change about diabetes and eating disorders. Although my internet connection was terrible (get ready to watch my face constantly freeze in unflattering positions) I think there is a quite a good overview in this video of the basics of what Lisa, Zo, and I do within DEDA. Take a look if you have a spare 20 minutes!

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FBetaChangeNetwork%2Fvideos%2F1758419551119964%2F&show_text=0&width=560

Diabetes and feminism – yes, it’s a thing

The International Diabetes Federation is running a “Women and Diabetes” campaign this year, and there’s been some rumblings on social media.

“I feel so left out”

“How many BOYS has this condition”

“It reinforce stereotypes of females as the only ones who should/do provide care”

“Any theme that appears to negate a particular group’s experience will always be problematic”

Ok, before I go any further, let’s make one thing clear – repeat it, after me.

Advocating 👏for👏 one👏 group 👏does👏 not 👏discount 👏the 👏other

Changing the font of worksheets for my students with dyslexia isn’t ignoring the other kids in the class, it’s making life easier for the students who struggle. It’s the same with this – by focusing on one group of people one year, it’s not saying that all other groups aren’t worth looking at. This SHEro campaign is simply acknowledging that women living with diabetes are bloody brilliant, and that there is still more work to be done to dismantle the inbuilt societal structures that perpetuate inequality.

The thing about privilege is that it’s invisible to those who have it. I have never felt the micro-agressions or overt/covert racism that people of colour live with daily, because I’m a white woman. I have never been denied entry to a place or mode of transport because I physically wasn’t to access it, because I don’t have a physical disability that prevents me from moving. However, women face systemic discrimination in the health care system. If you are a woman and you haven’t encountered this, that’s INCREDIBLE (and you need to give me the number of all your HCPs immediately), however it’s an issue for many of us, and I think it’s a fantastic move by the IDF to acknowledge and recognise that we face barriers in our healthcare.

As Renza said in this fantastic blog post on this topic, “the campaign is not suggesting that men do not experience struggles when it comes to living with diabetes themselves, or are not involved and integral in the care of others living with diabetes.” If you actually LOOK through the campaign, you will not see a “MEN SUCK” poster anywhere, regardless of how much you want to.

I am over people in positions of privilege using their already prominent voice to drown out those who are in need of the focus, awareness, and advocacy. Saying ‘but what about the MEN’ completely detracts from the aim of this campaign, which is to highlight inequality and inequity of health outcomes for women. They could have just as easily chosen to run with the PWDs living in developing countries, who struggle to access insulin daily. They could have focused on people with ‘different’ types of diabetes – LADA, MODY,  etc. – who may not have the awareness and knowledge around their conditions. However, this year it’s women, and shouldn’t that be celebrated?

When you’re in a position of privilege, not being included feels like discrimination.

Recognise that privilege dudes, and work with us to dismantle the system that creates it. Read this for a simple explanation of the privilege you may face in daily life, and not even recognise (but just saying, if it takes this article – written by a man – to tell you “that male privilege is real and ubiquitous, then you just proved its power”.) Work every day to recognise it, understand how it’s held in place, then dismantle the HECK out of it. I try to do this every day with white privilege – if I can recognise that I unconsciously benefit from a system that is built around my needs and wants, surely you can too! I replace this mantra with ‘racism’, and damn it’s been useful at making me into a better person!

Sexism happens, I benefit from it, I am unavoidably sexist sometimes because I was socialized that way, and if I want to be anti-sexist I have to be actively working against that socialization 

I think a big issue that needs to be discussed this year is the fact that women face implicit bias in the healthcare system that undervalues symptoms and pain (read this , and this if you think I’m talking out of my butt, it’s not just my feminist ass saying this) . For women with diabetes, this sexism suddenly becomes more pronounced. We’re at the doctors a LOT, and as we all know, diabetes is nearly never the sole offender. Once you get one chronic illness, others decide to join it. We need healthcare professionals who take us seriously, ones who don’t discount our pain as ’emotional issues’ or assume that we can be treated the same as men. I experienced this when I was told by a doctor to ‘calm down’ when I was having an asthma attack. TELL THAT TO MY LUNGS BUDDY.

We also need intersectionality in this space – I’m in a position of privilege being white, women of colour with diabetes have so many more barriers to break down as well. If you’re LGBTQI+ in this space, it honestly sometimes just becomes downright hilariously bad (flashback to the chat with a doctor who couldn’t understand that being sexually active didn’t always mean a risk of pregnancy…). We need understanding from the whole community that this inherent bias is a valid problem, and we need collaboration. By people drowning out this campaign with complaints of “It’s not fair, men are heroes too!” they’re missing the entire point. We’re here to raise awareness and lift women UP, not drag men down. Use your position of privilege to elevate our voice – as a commenter (and diabetes dad) on the Diabetes Australia Facebook page said in response to the campaign announcement…

“I could not be more proud of my daughter, and am extremely happy that women are being recognised this year. It doesn’t mean men (and boys) aren’t important, but some of these comments suggest that at least some men are very precious little petals, which saddens me

Feminism benefits everyone – and to let it benefit everyone, you need to let us have our space.

 

Some of the fucking brilliant diabetes SHEroes in my life