Dealing with a well-meaning, overly concerned friend
October 2012 — On my way to D.C. to visit a friend for the weekend, I shoved my suitcase into the car, took the dog to the sitter, and gassed up the Prius. I withdrew money from the ATM, and headed South, blissfully unaware that all of my diabetes meds remained parked on the countertop — right where I had conveniently placed them so that they would be in easy reach to scoop up on the way out the door.
It wasn't until we sat down to dinner in Washington that I realized what I had done. After phoning my husband to make sure I hadn't left them on the top of the car and driven off — which is always a possibility — I considered my dilemma. Based on my years of dealing with diabetes, I decided that the best route was a) not to panic and b) to wing it for the next two days. I'd keep a close watch on my sugars with my blood glucose monitor and eat conservatively. I was planning on taking a Saturday morning yoga class and quite a bit of afternoon walking to keep my sugars low. If they became unruly, I could always visit a pharmacist to see if I could get some Glucophage. Satisfied with my plan, I dug into my salad.
But what I hadn't counted on was my friend's concern. Or in this case, overconcern about her friend's diabetes. "How will you eat?" she asked me. "Will you pass out? Do you think you should be eating that?" she pressed on, pointing to the salad. "Should we call a clinic? A doctor? What are you going to do?"
"No," I smiled, chewing a lettuce leaf. "It really is OK. My sugars have been running low this week and I can keep track. I think I can skip a day or two and I'll be back on track by Monday. If I can't, I'll work on getting a few pills. No worries."
I gave her a confident smile. Of course, it isn't optimal to go without medication for any length of time, but I had worked with my diabetes for over twenty-five years. I felt this solution would serve me fine.
Yet my friend was having none of it. Convinced that I was in mortal danger, she spent the next day questioning my every move. Should I be walking? Did I need that apple? Should I eat that cheese? Was I sure I was OK?
I answered her with patience, trying to explain my strategy, but by hour five her questions were getting under my skin. Even if she meant well, her queries made me feel incompetent and — quite frankly — like a sick person. And I didn't feel sick. I felt I knew how to take care of myself.
Still, I hesitated to call her on it. I waited until late afternoon, when she started to ask me how I felt once again, to finally speak my mind. "I appreciate your concern," I told her. "But when it comes to my diabetes, I'd also appreciate if you'd let me handle it. Talking about it so much is kind of annoying me, and I do feel as if I've got the situation under control."
For a second, my friend said nothing. Then she said, "I was worried."
I smiled and took her hand. I said, "I know."
It took a little courage to call her on it. But the questions stopped, and we're still friends. Sometimes, I think, when it comes to diabetes, you really do have to take control.
dLife's Viewpoints columnists are not all medical experts, but everyday people living with diabetes and sharing their personal experiences, most often at a set point in time. While their method of diabetes management may work for them, everyone is different. Please consult with your diabetes care team before acting on anything you read here to find out what will work best for you.
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