Guest Post David Mapletoft, Diabetes Educator
People around us are generally helpful, caring and concerned. But what do you say when people make mistakes about diabetes management?
On a social media post recently Gwen commented: “Frustrated after a conversation with co-worker today who told me I didn’t need a diabetes dog I just need to take better care of myself so I don’t get highs and lows. If she knew a thing about diabetes it would be different. Also says my spouse does not need to know more it’s my responsibility. Had to walk away!!”
How would you manage this conversation?
Might you try saying something like: “How about you come over to dinner sometime, let sit down and eat together. We can then talk about the things I need to consider just to enjoy a meal with a friend”.
Or hand them a copy of the “Ten Commandments for Avoiding Negative Scenes with Diabetic Loved Ones” by Richard Rubin
- Thou shalt not act like a Police person.
- Thou shalt not ignore diabetes.
- Thou shalt not lead your loved one in the paths of temptation.
- Thou shalt not criticise when your loved one succumbs to temptation.
- Thou shalt not talk about your loved one’s diabetes in public unless invited to do so.
- Thou shalt offer support and comfort, especially when things aren’t going well with the diabetes.
- Thou shalt have the patience of a Saint when your loved one is acutely hypo- or hyperglycaemic.
- Thou shalt deal constructively with your own natural fears and resentments.
- Thou shalt be especially sensitive in public situations
- Thou shalt find out what works and do it
I asked people in our community what they would say
Marys’ response was: “I would be frustrated too. But this would be a good time to educate your coworker a bit.”
Jane said: “this would get me mad as well because your husband needs to know about your condition. I bet she hasn’t got diabetes. It’s got my goat up just reading about it. My husband got one at his workplace. This foreign guy was drunk, went to work and got caught sleeping on he job. He says he’s got diabetes. We don’t believe him. I’ve got diabetes and people like these people who say they got it make me so mad.”
June said: “I would love to force her to go threw a day with us and let her see how it really fills…let’s see how well her day starts knowing the first thing she does as soon as she opens her eyes and before she even gets to pee is prick herself and check her bgl…. then start her day…..every day..”
A little extreme maybe, but a good point. Most people who don’t have diabetes have no idea of the reality of living each day with diabetes. They are fed media information that is often inaccurate and misleading.
One strategy that could be helpful in the workplace is have the management organise on International Diabetes Day (or similar) a screening check for all staff. This cold incorporate talks from health professionals, and from people in that workplace who have diabetes.
I’m not sure of the statistics here in Australia, but according to Kaiser Family Foundation data, the American Diabetes Association’s workplace cost calculator estimates that for a company with 1,000 employees:
- 100 employees have diabetes
- 27 of them are undiagnosed
- 250 have prediabetes
I suspect Australian stats are quite similar.
Friends and Family
Is dealing with this problem of misguided comments the same with friends and family?
This may be a little different, easier, to manage as you have an emotional relationship with these people. What strategies have you used in this situation? What has and hasn’t worked?
You could share with anybody who makes ignorant comments about you and your diabetes a ‘fact sheet’ about the realities of living with diabetes. What might you write in this ‘I Live Every Minute with Diabetes’ fact sheet?
How about people reading this blog make some comments below as to what they would write on this fact sheet. Make something that is a team effort here to be shared by all.
One reply posted said: “Never listen to ignorant people. Every one of us is different and we do what we need to in order to take care of ourselves. But just because someone hasn’t heard of it doesn’t make them ignorant, just makes them uninformed…like me!!!”
This problem of being hounded by people who do not understand diabetes has the potential to cause ‘diabetes burnout’ if heard often enough from friends, family and in the workplace.
You might like to read the book: Putting the Brakes On Diabetes Burnout
“Experiencing burnout is not about being weak or being a ‘bad’ person. It is nothing to be ashamed of. Diabetes burnout can happen to any person with diabetes at any time, in particular after a period of high voltage stress, ill health or difficult diabetes control. Or it can have no obvious triggers apart from being worn down by years of self-management. What is common to all cases of diabetes burnout is that it can lead you into rough seas with no promise of calmer waters on the horizon. This is different to the experience of depression but can sometimes be related to, happen alongside, or even lead to, depression.”
Travel Safely my friends.
Kind Regards from
David – Diabetes Educator