Support, What Do You Think It’s Good For?

On October 4, I wrote a blog entry proposing a “day off” from diabetes. This suggestion evoked some strong feelings—mostly anger at my lack of sensitivity about life with diabetes. I accept responsibility for irritating those of you who responded. Your responses have helped me clarify my ideas about the psychic weight of living with diabetes.

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My suggestion of time off should have focused more on the usefulness of support that can help some people combat the sense of loneliness that can come with any chronic medical condition. But what I did suggest would not be a day off for you, and maybe nothing would.

Your responses also reminded me that giving advice as though it would work for everyone is a mistake. If there is anything I’ve learned in working with people who have diabetes, it is that in most instances you have the best knowledge and ideas yourself. This is not always true for people who are newly diagnosed, but those of you who have lived with diabetes for a while have probably figured out what works for you. Thanks for your honesty.

What I want to ask about this week has to do with support. What helps? What doesn’t help? When working with people with diabetes and their families, if I had to choose just one piece of information to learn about the situation of the person with diabetes, it would be what his support system is like.

Some people are extremely independent and work hard to keep others out of their diabetes care. (For instance, this may be the case with the commenter who said he didn’t want to create a burden for anyone else with his diabetes tasks.) This is great if it works for you, but in many families, someone is always trying to help—which can be a good thing or a bad thing.

How do you respond to a person who is always offering help, even when you don’t need it? You know the “helpful” reminders people can come out with, like “Should you be eating that?” or “Isn’t it time for you to check your blood glucose?” If this sounds like someone in your family or friend group, feel free to share any ways you have found to deal with it. Do you find their suggestions at all helpful, or just intrusive? Do you give in to their requests, or ignore them? Or do you just get angry about the intrusion and tell them off?

What kind of support is helpful for you? What can you do to make sure you get the support you want?

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