Just like in the movie, today we’re doing a swap. If you could switch chronic diseases, which one would you choose to deal with instead of diabetes? And while we’re considering other chronic conditions, do you think your participation in the DOC has affected how you treat friends and acquaintances with other medical conditions?
In a Freaky Friday disease swap, I would hold my sister down and steal her coeliac disease, without a doubt.
Coeliac disease? “What about all the pasta and pastries you’ll be missing out on?” I hear you all say.
Bear with me.
Coeliac disease is all over my family. My sister, aunt, grandparents, uncle and many cousins all have coeliac. Needless to say, our family gatherings are always gluten free! I know coeliac disease – I don’t know what it’s like to have it, but I do know the food options, how it works and thanks to my family, I eat a fairly low gluten diet anyway.
I was so jealous of my sister, when I got diagnosed with diabetes, that she got the ‘other’ autoimmune condition. Although I can eat whatever I want (within reason) my disease is one that can kill me immediately. One pump malfunction, kinked cannula or dose of Novo Rapid instead of Lantus and I’m in big trouble. My sister eats gluten and she’s on the toilet. Is it uncomfortable and painful? Absolutely. Does she have a risk of dying from a single ingestion of gluten? No – not at all.
Coeliac is an avoidance game. Avoid gluten, and you’re right as rain. People with coeliac disease don’t get told, “you just have to try HARDER, why can’t you control your bowel?” My sister knows what she can’t eat, and adjusts her diet accordingly. She doesn’t have to get approved to drive by her doctor every two years, plan her exercise ahead, inject herself and prick her fingers daily, be told by health professionals that she’s “lazy”. She doesn’t have to worry about going low while teaching a class, driving, or dancing on stage.
I really don’t want this to sound like I’m saying that coeliac disease isn’t a ‘hard’ disease to deal with. It is, choices of food are limited and it can be a huge pain! Diabetes and coeliac are both diseases that leave us susceptible to other ones, so in that respect having coeliac disease would be just as frustrating as having type 1 diabetes. However, I believe avoiding a food group would be a lot easier on my mental health than constantly counting, injecting and planning. It’s really hard having a disease that is so full-on, all of the time. I would love a break from diabetes; even a few hours would be nice. My mental health is more important to me than food choices, which is why I would swap with my sister in a heartbeat.
I don’t think I treat friends or acquaintances with a chronic illness any differently after discovering the DOC and having a chronic disease myself. I was never tactless or rude to people that were different to me – I’ve grown up around people with different illnesses -let’s be honest, in my family if you DON’T have a disease you’re the freaky one!
However I do know now exactly how other people with chronic illnesses feel, whereas before I could only imagine. My chronic illness has brought my sister and me closer together but it still doesn’t mean I wouldn’t steal her coeliac disease if I were able to!
About Georgie Peters
I’m 21, studying a Bachelor of Arts at Monash University, majoring in all things language and planning to be a secondary teacher. I’m addicted to reality TV and sequins, and love travelling and any kind of dance. I also happen to be a type 1 diabetic. My diabetes doesn’t define me, but it is here to stay and sometimes I like to write about it on my blog, My Lazy Pancreas.
Opinions expressed by Georgie in this post are her own, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Diabetes Australia –Vic.