Hello, my name is Merietta... and I'm a diabetic

Do you ever feel that when you tell people that you are a diabetic, it is like telling them that you are a recovering alcoholic or drug addict? Every time I go to my parent's home my mom is sure to diabetes-proof the home, removing all sugar based foods and drinks within her home and all family member's and friend's homes as well. In fact, when my mom and sister felt that I should eat raisins and orange juice instead of coke or candy bars to bring my blood sugar up on those rare low occasions, they called my doctor to request an "intervention" with them and my family and friends. When people "catch" me dialing-in some insulin on my pump they always ask what is is, and when I tell them what the pump is for and that I am diabetic- they never quite know how to act. First is always an "ooooo, I'm sorry", followed by some questions about it, ending with a kind of congratulations on being alive because they could "never prick my own finger or give myself a shot". I feel that I should be telling them that I've been sober for 6 years, but instead of being off the sauce - I'm on the insulin. It's hard enough for me to deal with my own disease and mortality and all mental issues that go along with diabetes, but having to deal with everyone else's issues with my disease and mortality and mental issues that go along with my diabetes is very difficult and I am really tired of it. I know, I know, they are just concerned about me; they care about me; I am educating the general public about diabetes; they are not used to being faced with such issues; blah, blah, blah. I'm tired of it. I'm tired of them getting uncomfortable when I tell them than I almost died the first time I was in DKA, that I have had to decide where I want to be buried if I die, how every time my sugar gets too high and I get that really sick feeling I can't help but think about life & death. It's not like I bring this up out of the blue, I tell them these things because they ask me...I guess that is the meaning of "be careful what you ask for". At least if I were at a meeting of "diabetics anonymous" people would ask, tell, discuss, and more importantly...understand without getting weirded out.

Views: 12

Comment by Jenny on April 27, 2008 at 6:01am
Actually, I get the opposite. My (fairly toxic) family of origin decided years ago that I must have decided to be diabetic as a ploy to get attention. So if I visted they'd ply me with things I'm not supposed to eat in the spirit of "get over it." Or they would do things like order out for a meal and say, "We didn't order anything for you because you eat such peculiar things."

Which is why I don't spend a lot of time with them!

So I guess what I'd say is count your blessings that your family cares for you!

It really helps to find a few friends who deal with the same issues. That is why the online community is so helpful. Eventually you will meet a few people who live in your region and can get together from time to time. That really helps.
Comment by Joe on April 27, 2008 at 7:16am
hi Merietta. (sorry I couldn't help it =))

I think the emotional effect of learning something really personal about somebody can make for an uncomfortable scene. yea, people don't know what to say, and yea there is so much misinformation about diabetes out there, it's almost impossible to make any kind of positive change, even on an "education" rampage.

look at it this way - you have come to the right place, we know what you are going thru, you don't have to explain to me that you are a Type 1, or even what that means - 'cause I know what it is and so do the other 2500+ members of the biggest "meeting" you ever saw.

Comment by Toni Crebbin on April 27, 2008 at 7:58am
I call people who do things like this the "diabetes sheriff." Usually I don't waste my time explaining things to them, but if it's family, you need to tell them how it makes you feel. They are stuck in the old school thought of diabetes, and need a little modern education. Otherwise you are going to want to stop hanging out with them.
Comment by tmana on April 27, 2008 at 3:03pm
It sounds like your family and their friends are trying to be helpful by removing possible sources of temptation from you, based on the belief that since you have diabetes you either (1) crave sugar as an addict does his fix, and/or (2) will die if you so much as inhale a single sugar molecule. (Obviously a misunderstanding, but a very common one.)

Removing all temptations to misbehave is an understandable reaction from anyone who has made -- or even moreso someone who tried to make (but failed at making) -- a major lifestyle change... You may need to prove to your family that you do not need that level of "support" from them. (Or, could it be that they are trying to prove to you that they are now eating "cleaner" in order to try to avoid developing diabetes themselves?)

I have tended to be the "wet blanket" because I need to watch my sodium as well as everything else... and I've found the most effective way to handle everything is to try to stick to a "whole foods" diet to the greatest degree possible. I would much rather treat a low with OJ or raisins than with a Coke or a candy bar, and then after I know my blood glucose level is climbing back to (or beyond) normal, follow it up with some nuts or a reduced-fat string cheese to blunt the fall-off. I'm the one who keeps the house stocked with fresh fruits, fresh veggies, and whole-grain flours... I'm the one who makes the "sign against evil" when confronted with White Flour, High Fructose Corn Syrup, and Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil...

Fortunately, a lot of the family food arguments subsided after my diagnosis, because I can throw the "health" issue back at them.
Comment by Alessandra Paganin on July 11, 2008 at 12:40pm
Hi Merietta.I completely understand how you feel. My family and boyfriend are completely supportive and never consider me as an ill person. But going around I cought plenty of times people looking at me as I was an alien just cause I'm having my shot :-( Plus some of my "friends" or at least the ones I thought to be, felt pity for me, or used to say "oh there's a dessert, but Ale can't have one, sorry for you"...this made me so terribly angry! God, it won't be a piece of cake that will make me die!!!Plus I can add a certain amount of insulin to have it! I even heard ignorant people saying "she must have been eating so wrongly for years to get it"...:-(( I had in my life some years of stress that caused me my diabetes according to my doctors..You know, I always try to think that those are really poor people inside! Take care, hope we'll be friends!Ale x


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