Diabetes Self-Management Blog

Some poor, hapless bug meandered onto the front porch the other day—no easy feat, since the porch is totally screened in—and, just its luck, met up with three kittens. It was one of those roundish, hard-shelled bugs and turned out to make a perfect hockey puck. The kittens were having a blast batting it around among themselves, but I daresay the bug was not as thrilled as being turned into a plaything as the kittens were in discovering a new toy.

Don’tcha just feel like that bug some days, getting batted around by doctors and well-meaning friends, family and, sometimes, perfect strangers?

I think it comes from a disconnect between today’s diabetes treatments and yesterday’s thought processes. Apparently, everything else changes, but diabetes care remains the same. In some people’s minds, that is.

Assuming your health-care provider is up to date on diabetes care (and don’t count on it), he tells you one thing…but then you run into the aforementioned well-meaning friends, family, etc., who know better, darn it!

Take Shawna, for example. She’s about to set off for a visit with her in-laws, who she describes as “usually fun for the most part, and we have a good time visiting with them.”

But there is this one little thing with her mother-in-law: Shawna’s diabetes care. “Last time we went, there were some very tense moments between us,” says Shawna, who uses an insulin pump to help manage her Type 1 diabetes. “No matter how many times I explain, she can’t understand why I don’t have to eat at certain times or why I can drink alcohol if I have diabetes.”

MIL also can’t seem to understand that all carbohydrates raise your blood glucose, whether they’re in the mashed potatoes or in the dessert. And when Shawna tries to explain that her blood glucose behaves better if she eats vegetables, MIL answers that “potato is a vegetable.”

“After spending so much time explaining to her how I don’t eat certain things, I found myself secretly treating a low in private so she wouldn’t question why I was eating candy,” Shawna says. “I’m sure she would have thought I was ‘cheating’ and that I eat what I want when it suits me, but don’t eat what everyone else is eating (like pizza and pasta) just to be difficult.”

Sometimes it even feels like you’re the one playing hockey puck…with yourself. Changes can sometimes be difficult to wrap your own brain around.

Back in the era of two injections a day, I had to watch the clock and eat on time—or else. Then I switched to multiple daily injections, which made things a little easier. And, when rapid-acting insulin replaced the fast-acting Regular, it was even easier. But dinner was still a problem: Dinner was at 6 PM. Always.

Then came the ultimate flexibility: an insulin pump. I could sleep in. I could eat any time I wanted. In fact, I skipped dinner the day I started pumping. But it was a bit difficult to stop the habit of eating dinner at 6 PM. It was even more difficult for my husband to stop getting nervous at 6 PM when he saw that I wasn’t eating. (For some reason, he isn’t fond of dealing with my hypoglycemia.)

The worst, I think, are the strangers. Why do they think it’s their business to tell us how to treat our diabetes? Yes, “should you be eating that?” is annoying. But there are other looks and comments that are even more annoying.

As a Type 2, I get the disapproving looks that say, “you did this to yourself.” (Yes, I suppose I should have picked my ancestors better.) Type 1s get “if you’d just watch what you eat…” type of comments.

Oh, you can explain all you want, but their minds are probably made up. After all, what do you know? You’re just the one with diabetes, following doctor’s/dietitian’s/CDE’s orders.

If only you could be rude and just tell ‘em to “bug off.”

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Comments
  1. My mom, not diabetic, has had a failing appetite the past few years. She likes for us (her daughters) to run through a drive thru and bring her dinner and stay to eat with her. We all live near, but I’m the only one with no kids left at home, so I always let her decide where I’m getting dinner from.

    Recently she chose Long John Silvers. There was nothing on their menu that I felt comfortable with, so I just bought her dinner and none for myslef. I had planned to run through Popeye’s and get their Naked Chicken Strips for me…. they don’t have them anymore.

    Fast food places who don’t have anything halfway healthy on their menu is one of my pet peeves. Almost all could offer at least ONE item!

    Posted by Ephrenia |
  2. One of the first things I do is to very gently tell my friends that I am the only one who can manage my disease. I tell them that I really appreciate that they care and if I experience a problem, I will surely let them know, because I know they care, but that I am being treated by a doctor who is very much up to date on all the latest techniques for treating type II diabetes–and that those methods have changed really radically in the past few years.

    I have had the experience of being out with people who watch very carefully what I eat and if they question something I am eating, I just smile when they ask if I can have that. I say, yes, but only under certain circumstances, and I don’t want to go into those, believe me, because frankly it is boring to me and I am the diabetic. Then I change the subject. Sometimes with a warning look. I have heard that people talk about me behind my back for this, but that’s fine with me.

    Posted by Shzron1946 |
  3. I am a new type 2 diabetic. I have only told a few people that I am. I haven’t told my in-laws just for the reason that I don’t want to deal with them telling me how I should be controling my disease. It has only been 8 months so I’ve been able to keep it from them for now. I know it will get harder with time. Maybe hiding it isn’t the best way to handle it but not everyone needs to know. Not needing insulin makes it easier to keep private for now.

    One person that knew and saw I had lost some weight because of controling my carbs wanted to know how many carbs I was allowed in a day because she wanted to limit her carbs to a total intake of that so she could loose weight. She could not understand how I had to manage my carbs with monitoring my blood to keep from spiking and to keep my A1c # good.

    To be fair people with Heart Disease get nagged about what they eat too.

    Posted by Jadequilt |
  4. Hi there, I’m new to this form of communication but I think it’s great. I know what you mean about people giving tips, Then there’s my mom who trys so hard to fix HEALTHY meals for me. She doesn’t get it AT ALL. So, I just say don’t fix anything special for me. Hey these family dinners and things may not even be at a time when I can eat. I actually keep my diabetes a secret. Now I just tell people. I was in a situation where I was traveling one hour to go dancing with a group of gals. Dancing always lowers my sugar levels and I always bring my monitor along to check. I just told them ….here’s the deal, if I act weird, talk to much, repeat myself etc. sweat, just tell me to check my sugar and I let them know they don’t have to be my babysitter but if they notice anything just give me a nudge to check it out. And I have candy in my pocket. Have fun and it’s OK to be safe.

    Posted by blinggirl |
  5. hi i have recently been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes after an accident at work. since then after being told repeatedly by the doc,mom,wife,kids,dad,coworkers,dog,bird to get my act together or i would be sucking pudding thru a straw,i can honestly say that this was the big push i needed to get off my butt and start taking better care of myself.i dont raid fast food joints anymore,i actually drink diet cokes, they still suck,i exercise moreand actually care about what i eat.as a former law enforcement official,im worried about my life more than being on the streets.honestly i know that i have family and friends that watch what i eat and get on my case when i slip up and let me know about it.i do however love to antagonize my wife and daughter every chance i get.haha

    Posted by juevos57 |

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