Click for the What They Should Know – Friday 5/18 Link List.
Today's prompt: What They Should Know. Today let’s borrow a topic from a #dsma chat held last September. The tweet asked “What is one thing you would tell someone that doesn’t have diabetes about living with diabetes?” Let’s do a little advocating and post what we wish people knew about diabetes. Have more than one thing you wish people knew? Go ahead and tell us everything.
This topic is reminiscent of the DBlogDay topic from 2010 - the 6 Things I Want You To Know About Diabetes. And it remains one of my most visited posts to date.
But I have something else on my mind for today.
My friend Susan has taught me a lot over the years and one of my favorite quotes from her is this:
"Wow. What is that like for you?"
It's what she asks me when we talk about my diabetes. It's what I've learned to ask her in regard to her anxiety and depression.
And now it has become what I ask the newly diagnosed. It's what I ask a frazzled parent of a type 1. It's even what I asked the man who got me a can of coke (for a low blood sugar) in Key West when he told me that his Golden Retriever had diabetes.
We all think we know so much. We especially think we can judge others because we know so much.
I know what it's like to be ME with diabetes, but I don't know what it's like to have been my friends or relatives.
I have never struggled with an eating disorder, depression, body image issues, seizures, becoming an astronaut, running an Ironman.
I've never been the mom of a kid with diabetes, but so many parents I can think of have their own unique situations - parenting a diabetic since babyhood, parenting one toddler with diabetes and a little girl with Crohn's, parenting three diabetic boys at once, parenting one creative elementary aged boy, parenting a child with both celiac and type 1.
Each story is unique.
Yet we are so quick to judge our relatives who "ate their way to diabetes." We are so quick to assume that Aunt Sue lost her feet because she didn't try hard enough. We are so quick to assume that we know better.
Every time I see a really hard-hitting anti-smoking commercial, I nod in agreement and say "There's a good one."
My husband, an ex-smoker, always says, "It won't work."
"Why not?" I asked one day. "Why won't knowing how harmful it is make someone want to quit?"
"You know you should exercise, right? You know it will make you healthier, stronger, make you live longer? But you don't do it, do you? Why not?"
"Because I don't want to."
"Exactly," he said.
Probably 99% of us at one time or another believe that people cause their own diabetes (type 2 especially). That they just don't listen to their doctors or make the changes they have to make.
First of all, that's a misconception about type 2, fueled by media hype and undereducated family doctors.
Second of all, give Granny a break. Making changes is crazy hard.
At best, major lifestyle changes may hold her diabetes diagnosis at bay for a couple of years. Maybe it will keep her off meds. Maybe it will add years to her life.
But she is tired. She has eaten a certain way or led a certain kind of life for longer than you have. She doesn't want to have to go through this. Making sweeping overhauls is hard and it's no magic bullet. There's no guarantee that she won't develop type 2 eventually. Lifestyle is only a part of it. Be supportive in her efforts. They are difficult and they are just part of the battle.
And if it's type 1 diabetes that your loved one is poorly controlling, a little support goes a lot further than a little derision. Who made you the diabetes police? You don't know what it's like for them, weighing, measuring, calculating, spiking, plummeting, shaking, raging...24/7.
Assumptions. Maybe you don't know what you think you know.
Try asking instead, "Wow. Diabetes. What is that like for you?"