Talkin’ about “diabète”

Things I thought I’d have to do in French regarding diabetes:

  • Ask the pharmacist for supplies
  • Talk to the doctor
  • Explain what it is to my host kids
  • …that’s it

What I have actually done:

  • Argued with the doctor over my ‘obesity’ and my refusal to go on a diet.
  • Argued with the hospital over getting an appointment in less than six months time.
  • Argued (are you sensing a theme here…) with the doctor over her prescribing me both BGL strips and the Libre.
  • Sent THREE emails to the French Animas team about my broken pump.
  • Explained the difference between my pancreas and their pancreas to a group of curious ten year olds.
  • Explained why I’m testing my blood sugar on multiple dates…I can’t flirt in English, me trying to talk about diabetes in a ‘cute’ way in French is a DISASTER.
  • Defended my food in my bag to a security guard and accidentally flashed him my bra whilst taking out my pump to explain my ‘diabète’.
  • Explained that my pump is attached to me and I can’t just give it to the security guard to walk off with and ‘investigate’ at Charles de Gaulle Airport.


I thought that having diabetes and living abroad would just be a bit challenging in terms of logistics and supplies, but I totally underestimated the language factor, and the amount of standing up for myself I would have to do! Also, this whole diabetes as an ‘invisible’ condition thing? Bullshit, diabetes is also totally visible. The Libre on my arm, my pump glowing through my shirt…the fact is that it likes to make itself known, and will force you to talk about it even when you don’t want to. I didn’t have the words to describe my condition, because I’ve never needed them before. Turns out, those words should have been at the top of my list!

Word to the wise – before you move to a non-Anglophone country, learn how to explain that beeping thing in your bra before you go!

Libre and a Longchamp full of books in Cour Damoye

2 thoughts on “Talkin’ about “diabète”

  1. My experience has been that France is not that forward thinking on disability in general. Things like lifts and accessible bathrooms are not the norm. I mean, the trains and tubes in Paris lack lifts where people have buggies and suitcases and such. In 2018.

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