This post originally appeared on my blog at ASweetLife.org on August 8, 2016. I modified the title a bit by adding in the word, “please”…because a little extra kindness can work wonders! This particular blog post is still very relevant to how I feel when strangers make uninformed comments on my diabetes. The bottom line? If you don’t know me and my medical history with diabetes, then please, please, PLEASE avoid telling me how I should handle it. Much obliged!
I like to think that I am fairly tolerant of people asking me questions about my diabetes. From “What’s that thing on your arm?” to “What do glucose tablets taste like?”, I’ve heard quite the gamut of queries from friends and strangers alike over the years. More often than not, I try to provide honest and thoughtful answers to these questions and field follow-ups with patience.
I don’t respond well, though, when someone TELLS me something about my diabetes rather than ASKING me. It’s one thing if you’re telling me something that you know to be factually correct about diabetes as a whole, but it’s completely different if you’re telling me something about my diabetes as it pertains to me alone. And when I say “I don’t respond well” to that, I mean to say I keep smiling on the surface, but on the inside, I’m seething.
It’s been awhile since I’ve dealt with annoying assertions of this nature; unfortunately, this past week I had to grin and bear through two incidents in which I was being told what I should and should not do. (Note that I chose to not specify when and where each comment occurred, for my privacy and the privacy of others!)
Scenario One: At an undisclosed location, I’m helping myself to dinner. I add a cookie to my plate. A person in the vicinity says, “You shouldn’t be having that!”
This is a classic case of what you should never say to a person with diabetes. Most T1Ds will tell people that we can eat whatever we like, as long as we do so in moderation and remember to bolus for it accordingly. I was a little taken aback to hear this remark considering this person has known me since birth; therefore, they should realize I know how to take care of my diabetes by now. Initially, I was annoyed with this comment, but I decided to be graceful about it and say, “Yes, I can have that—I can eat whatever I like, within reason,” before exiting the room.
Scenario Two: At an undisclosed location, I’m cold, so I wrap myself in a blanket. A person in the vicinity says to someone else close by, “Molly has poor circulation because of her diabetes. That’s why she’s always cold.”
In the 18.5 years that I’ve had diabetes, I’ve never had someone tell me that it’s the reason why I get cold from time to time…just like anybody else might, whether or not they have a chronic illness. This comment really bothered me because I’ve had plenty of conversations with the individual about my diabetes, and I’ve never once linked it to my body temperature. Last time I checked, my circulation is perfectly normal. No doctor has ever told me that it’s poor. Plus, with air conditioners being put on full blast all summer long, I think it would be natural to get a little cold after sitting inside all day long without exposure to the sun’s warmth. I wish I had said something to put this person in their place, but wanting to avoid confrontation, I forced a smile and changed the subject.
In both of these situations, I probably wouldn’t have felt irritated if these comments were phrased at questions. Believe it or not, there’s a huge difference between telling me that my diabetes affects my circulation and asking me whether it does. Regardless of how diabetes-related remarks, queries, jokes, and references are phrased, though, I’ll still try hard to handle them with poise and a smile. I may internalize my frustration at the time of a bothersome statement, but it’s there and it does get to me.
One thought on “Don’t Tell Me How My Diabetes Affects Me…Please!”
So many stigmas related to diabetes. Poor circulation, prone to infection, and my personal favorite, slow to heal. I’ve gotten over the comment on what I should be eating. Now I just silently nod while eating the cake or cookies as they tell me that I shouldn’t be eating that. The slow healing is one I have found doctors keep saying as well. When I had my shoulder worked on, partial rotator cuff tear and sub acromial decompression (they chipped off a bone spur on the bottom of my collar bone that caused the partial tear), I was told that recovering would be a minimum of 3 months, most likely 6 months, and because I was a diabetic, could be as long as 1 year. Now it gets more complicated since they found out once the scope was in that I had tore the cartilage off the front 1/3 of the joint. Cartilage is very slow to heal due to poor blood flow I was told afterward. The first month I was not even supposed to get out of the recliner to prevent me from falling on it and screwing up their repair work. I was off work for only 2 1/2 months the first time and later when I had to go in a second time to release scar tissue that had formed (I believe it happened due them not letting me do any physical therapy for the first month) I was off only 1 week. Slow my hairy back side! lol I have many stories of why I do not see me as a slow healing diabetic. lol