Everything You Know About Diabetes Is (Probably) Wrong

Melissa Balick
12 min readMay 10, 2021

…and it may harm a diabetic.

Photo by Mykenzie Johnson on Unsplash

It happens in movies and on TV all the time. A bad guy detains a group of innocent people. “You can’t keep us here!” someone declares. “My daughter is a diabetic! She needs her insulin!”

“Don’t worry, lady,” the villain says. “I’ve got a chocolate bar.”

At that moment, millions of diabetics watching across the world silently (or not so silently) curse everyone involved with the production. We know that promoting misinformation like this is dangerous.

What I’m about to tell you can save a diabetic’s life. Are you ready? I’m going to need you to remember this:

Insulin lowers blood sugar. It’s used to treat high blood sugar.

Sugar raises blood sugar. It’s used to treat low blood sugar.

Insulin and sugar are not interchangeable, they’re opposites. If a diabetic loses consciousness due to low blood sugar and you inject them with insulin, they can die. If they don’t have their insulin and you make them drink juice, they can die.

Once you get this straight, you and I can be friends.

I got type 1 diabetes at the age of 8, when I began exhibiting symptoms such as weight loss, constant thirst, and frequent urination. My concerned mother took me to the doctor where I was quickly diagnosed. So, I was in third grade when I had no choice but to learn all about what diabetes is and how it works.

That’s why I’m confident that all you adult readers out there can handle the information I’m about to lay on you.

Insulin: What It Is and Why We Need It

Insulin is a hormone that the beta cells of a healthy pancreas creates in response to glucose hitting your bloodstream.

Your body breaks down the food you eat and turns it into glucose, which enters your bloodstream to reach every cell in your body. The cells use glucose as fuel. But in order for the cells to use the glucose, they need insulin.

Think of the glucose as people coming home from work. All they want to do is get to their nice cell houses and plop down in front of the TV. But when they get to the door, they…

Melissa Balick

Fiction writer with a couple stories published in literary magazines, nanny, reader of way too many books.