It’s kind of fun to vent once in awhile. And since people who don’t have diabetes haven’t walked in our shoes, they just don’t get it. For their sake, I’m glad they don’t have it, but it does make for some challenges along the way. There’s humor in it, too, at times. People often mean well.
So today, we bring you the top ten list of comments we’d rather not hear, and some thoughts on how we might comment when we do hear them.
1. “Should you be eating that?” I like to take a moment to educate when I hear this one. I usually say, “All things in moderation, as long as I count my carbohydrates, watch portion and take the right amount of insulin I can eat what I would like. It’s no worse for me to eat this than it is for anyone else.”
2. “You must have the bad kind of diabetes.” Is there a good kind of diabetes? Type 1 and Type 2 do have different challenges. Type 2s are often unnecessarily blamed for their disease, and people are generally doing the best they can with what they have to work with. I don’t think anyone wants to have diabetes.
3. “At least you don’t have cancer.” How do you know I don’t? Many diseases have the potential to be life-threatening. Managing my diabetes is a job I’d rather not have, but I also don’t want to have cancer, or any other disease, for that matter.
4. “Your pump does everything for you, though, right?” No, it doesn’t. I have to tell the pump what to do. It doesn’t work on auto-pilot.
5. “You can cure it with diet and exercise.” Actually, there is no cure. Diet and exercise are useful adjuncts, but they are not a cure. They won’t prompt my beta cells to suddenly start functioning normally!
6. “You get some bad complications if you don’t control it.” This is where I can get snarky. “Thanks for reminding me, Captain Obvious.” If you are meeting someone for the first time, or learning about their health it’s not a time to bring up a potential negative – especially considering those with diabetes are well aware of the possibility of complications if diabetes is mismanaged.
7. “My great aunt died from her diabetes, after she went blind and lost both her legs.” “Um, I’m not sure it’s helpful for me to hear that, but I am sorry for your loss.” Again, sad to hear about someone’s negative outcome from diabetes – however, every person is controlling things to their best ability. Asking how someone is doing with their management or inquiring about how to prevent detrimental effects may be a more positive way to learn more.
8. “You don’t look like someone who would have diabetes.” What does someone who has diabetes look like?
9. “So you can’t have children, can you?” Yes we can. I worked extra hard to keep my blood sugar tightly controlled when I was pregnant. Diabetes doesn’t make you infertile! It was a high risk pregnancy, but I have a beautiful and healthy child.
10. “If I keep eating like this, I’ll end up like you.” If you are overweight, you will likely become insulin resistant, that is true. But it’s not something to joke about. However, it’s NOT going to cause you to develop an autoimmune disorder!
Most of the time, I just try to educate. The more I do that, the more likely it is that people will have the knowledge to avoid making insensitive comments. And if they don’t? Maybe I’ll get a good laugh out of it.