The Problem with Responsibility

I’m not a child, so I do not have a parent who makes healthy diabetes meals for me and gets on my case about doing this or that to make sure I grow up healthy in spite of my Type 1 diabetes. Although I’m married, my wife is not my keeper; she loves me and she’s concerned about my health, but it is not her way to nag or pester or check in with me about my diabetes care, so I do not live with someone who asks me if I’ve exercised or if I’m watching what I eat or if I’ve checked my blood glucose or if I should really be out gardening without shoes on.


I do not have an endocrinologist who criticizes my self-management and picks out those areas in which I should be doing better and reprimands me for my actions. My primary care physician doesn’t spout a litany of what it is I ought to be doing to improve my lifestyle. My therapist doesn’t focus on my self-management and try to explore the reasons I might go several weeks without exercise or why I don’t follow the diets touted by diabetes magazines and diabetes experts.

My friends don’t monitor what I consume or drink when we’re out to eat. My colleagues don’t ask me if I’ve thought about the consequences of taking an extra handful of potato chips or an extra bagel at a staff event and what that might do to my diabetes. My parents don’t call to check up on how my diabetes is going; my sister isn’t e-mailing me with links to articles that I ought to read because it could help with my care.

And I’m not a religious person, so there’s no pastor, minister, priest, rabbi, or fellow believers at my place of worship who check in on me.

If I had the sort of health watchers out there who felt it their duty to keep tabs on my diabetes management with constant reminding, talking, preaching, asking, nitpicking, (mild) harassing, and so on…well, I have a feeling that I’d distance myself from them because I don’t like being told what to do. Heck, I might even rebel and use their good-intentioned but overbearing ways to convince myself to go the opposite way.

Most people don’t like being told what to do.

And yet there are times, such as the other evening, when I have moments of self-management weakness. These are often exacerbated by something out of whack with my diabetes that day, like a higher blood glucose (or a lower blood glucose). During these moments, I think how nice it would be to turn over all of my diabetes responsibilities to someone else. Give me some keepers!

I know, I do, that it’s not a good way to operate for the long-haul. Yet sometimes I so want to turn over to others my daily diabetes attentiveness.

As those of you with diabetes know, the condition is a constant in your life. I’ve written before about diabetes and how it seeps into everything because it can affect everything. So, yeah, sometimes, wouldn’t it be nice to have a team of people to take on the burden, to do the thinking for you?

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  • CalgaryDiabetic

    Dear Eric.

    Yes I am fully aware of what is needed. Yet I do not seem able to loose weight any more. My diabetic Doctor suggested that my log of absolutely everything I ate was too complicated and my wife, who was a stick person in her youth although now at 60 she has an appreciable lump of tummy grease, supported my Doctor because she is never hungry. Well not only did I regain the 10 lb that it took me 6 months to loose but an additional 10 lb to boot.

    My favorite furry friend having animal common sense does limit the amount of dry dog food he eats. However I tasted it, it is disgusting. Moreover I always wondered what would happen if I kept on feeding him the Costco barbecue chicken(bones and all). Would he stop or would he eat till he bursts? My wife said: I was not allow to carry out the experiment.

    The only hope to loose weight now is for God with a 50,000 volt taser to be standing near the magic white box and that He would zap me every time when I opened it. The combo of insulin/food is like crack cocaine I am not sure that free will suffices anymore. Any thoughts?

  • Lili

    Hey, I’m pretty similar. I do really intensive management and most of the time it doesn’t bother me to do it. Still, I think I don’t want the diabetes police or uninformed advice so much, and I could just use some support! I mean, it’s nice that everybody’s so hands-off, but once in awhile it would be nice to hear some acknowledgment.

  • kassie

    Great piece. I agree that it’d be nice to have someone take care of me for just a little while!

  • Peter mead

    Nope. Not me. All I ask for is understanding. And the only people who can TRULY give me that are other type 1 diabetics, of whom I know only one personally. I am happy with my responsibilities. Becoming a Type 1, really suddenly, just over a year ago, was a challenge to get on top of. The aftershocks of losing 35 pounds (175 to 140)in a month are still rippling through me. I went from a false Type 2 diagnosis to a LADA evolving into a type 1. At the end of this week I change from MDIs to MiniMed 522. Through all this my focus and responsibility has resulted in a better life for myself and everyone around me. My day starts with a deliberate act of getting myself together and keeping myself together throughout the day. Why? For those who love and/or count on me. For my own goals and aspirations. This is the line I cross every day: you are what you do, not what you think.

    I use food more efficiently. I know a basic thing that 80% of all American’s still have yet to learn: I know how to feed my body. My weight to muscle ratio is far more optimum than it has ever been. Effortless 50 mile bike rides (well, there’s the carb balancing, insulin…ah well you know the etc.’s, but I come back INVIGORATED like I could bite the eyes out of the devil…hmmm yuck…). I have bypasses so much sloth and meaningless activity that seems to permeate modern life because my body no longer has an automatic transmission. I am on manual. Living deliberately in the teeth of risk. Really living.

    I’m just like you. All of you.


  • Joan

    Eric: Each of us is responsible for ourselves no matter the issue! It is nice to dream but what you think would be wonderful – to have someone make decisions for you, will not nor can it ever happen. Why? Because diabetes reacts and affects each of us differently – period. There is no ONE ANSWER that fits all of us every day for the rest of our lives.

    Each of us has a VOICE. So, say “thank you” and walk a way or change the subject if you are annoyed. I have never lost a friend over my diabetes lifestyle! To sometimes commiserate with one another may be a bit of help for some of us, but not as helpful as providing positive suggestions and help with our method of control!

    We do need the assistance of our spouse, family and friends and their concern and suggestions should be listened to because WE who deal with diabetes everyday do not always SEE what may be harmful to us!

    We must find a positive method of communication with our life partners, family and friends because NO PERSON IS AN ISLAND in this world – on any issue!

    Living 50 years with Type I!

  • CalgaryDiabetic

    Dear Peter. Sounds like me 11 years ago when I first developed type 2 or possibly type 1 this was never clarified by who knows what test is needed. My Doctors just assumed that type 2 because of my obesity. Does it matter really to the treatment. Probably somewhat since I tried Avandia with absolutely no effect except for a seriously damaged pocket book.

  • Ephrenia

    Yes, of course I feel that way sometimes, but then I run into a situation like I did today.

    I was visiting a friend who is in a nursing home. She invited me to stay for dinner, and I did. One sweet lady who sits at her table, I’ll call her Ms.D to keep her anonymous, has diabetes.

    Today for snack they had ice cream, they were out of the diabetic type. For dessert they served banana pudding. They didn’t have a diabetic alternative then either. Ms.D asked for just a little bit because she dearly loves banana pudding. They told her she wasn’t allowed.

    This lady id 92 years old. She’s not worried about complications in 10 years. I know that a little bite or 2 following a meal probably won’t do that much. What would it have hurt? She is an adult. I’d have been very angry being treated that way!

    Well, her other tablemates made sure she got her bit of pudding. Her response? “That was so good it would be worth dying for!”

  • Ephrenia

    to CalgaryDiabetic

    My friend – please don’t feed chicken bones to your dog. Cats, ok, but not dogs. Chicken bones can be harmful to dogs because of the way they splinter! Ask his Vet. The meat is fine, but hold the (bird) bones.

  • Carolyn

    I, too, sometimes find myself wishing someone else would take over my responsibility for my diabetes care. But I know I’m the only one who can do it for myself, with the input of my Kaiser medical team.

    About weight, however, I have found an awesome solution that works for me. I have joined Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous (you can look them up on the web and find meetings near you.) I have lost 85 pounds and kept it off for over a year and a half. And the food plan is great for diabetics and can be adjusted if need be for a diabetic person’s individual needs.

  • Jayne

    Whenever someone offers me a sweet, I say, No, but can I have a bite? Or, Will someone share this with me? Then, I put half a stick of gum in my mouth to get rid of the sugar after taste which keeps talking to me to get more. I have found that eating the dessert I have planned for my meal first and eating a protien last eliminates my cravings for more sweets. It works for me!