As a young adult living with Type 1 diabetes, I have heard more misconceptions about diabetes than I care to remember. When a new acquaintance learns that I have diabetes, they often can’t resist making some misinformed comment about how I do not fit into their preconceived notions of a “diabetic.”
“You’re a diabetic? But you’re not fat…”
“Isn’t it ironic that you’re eating candy? Diabetics shouldn’t eat that.”
“You should just exercise more, my uncle did that and now he’s off insulin.”
“You really should try this essential oil; it can reverse your diabetes.”
The word “diabetic” is unfortunately associated with many unflattering stereotypes, even within the medical community. Some of these presumably well-intentioned comments are quite rude, incredibly frustrating, or just so blatantly false that it takes all my strength not to respond with sarcasm.
As I have considered ways to increase public education about diabetes in a more positive way, I realized that a simple solution was sitting in my desk: an upcycled insulin pen. This insulin-penturned-ink-pen has been far more than a creative way to avoid medical waste; the simple act of removing the empty insulin reservoir and replacing it with an ink cartridge has transformed this pen into an interesting educational tool. When I have used this upcycled pen in class, at work, or in social settings, it instantly sparks conversation. This pen facilitates public diabetes education in a more organic way as I share my experiences as a diabetic with curious observers. Using this pen as a catalyst, I am able to dispel some of that negative stigma that all too often accompanies the word “diabetic.”