Reactions to Diabetes
When to tell, what to say, and how to handle peoples reactions
By Travis Grubbs
I am peculiar about my diabetes. I tend to go "both ways" when telling others about my condition. Some times I say that I have diabetes, and some times I say that I am a diabetic. I realize that there is some "dispute" regarding the use of the term diabetic to describe one's condition. A few months ago this issue was brought up in a forum posted at TuDiabetes. The postings revealed some strong feelings about the use of the terms "person with diabetes" versus "diabetic." For me the solution is simple - call yourself by whichever term, or terms, you prefer, and whenever you like.
I freely talk about my diabetes, and even agreed to wear a medical I.D. bracelet on a belt loop (I don't like wearing things on my wrists). However, I don't like testing my blood sugar when others are watching me. I can test in public, etc., but I just do not like being watched. I also do not like non-medical personnel asking me about my blood sugar readings (especially right after testing). This procedure and information is personal to me. I leave my logbook on the kitchen table so that any one (like my wife or some nosey burglar) wanting to know my numbers can review my logbook at their leisure. Just don't ask me to disclose a particular reading. Yes, I agree, I am strange.
To add to my strangeness, I like to judge the reaction of others when I reveal my diabetes. I am amused when they look alarmed or uncomfortable. It's like they are expecting me to display some sort of visible symptom like suddenly turn purple or break out in boils. I recently assured some one that I was not contagious based on their reaction to my disclosing that I was type 2 (another term of choice). Yes, I agree, I can be a real smart butt.
My wife and I were at a party where alcohol was being served. Since alcohol, diabetes, and I, do not agree on a common definition for "moderation", it is best that I stopped consuming alcohol when I was diagnosed with type 2. At this event I brought a six pack of O'Doul's Dark (non-alcohol) Beer. As the evening progressed I heard a woman in the kitchen exclaim: "Who brought the O'Doul's?!" The response was in a more hushed tone: "That belongs to Travis. He can't drink anymore, he has diabetes." This was followed by "Oh…."
I try not to be offended when some one gives me a sympathetic look when they learn of my condition, because I am just as guilty of giving the same sympathetic look when parents tell me that their child is type 1. Children (and dogs) are my weak spot, and they should not be subjected to chronic conditions. I also feel for the parents having to confront their child's condition, battle the insurance company for their child's medical treatment, supplies, etc. On more than one occasion I have been brought to tears while reading, on blogs, social networking sites, etc., a parent's account of dealing with their child's condition.
I enjoy meeting others that have diabetes. I appreciate the smile that I receive when I respond, "But you look so normal", when some one reveals to me that they have type 1 or type 2 diabetes. I find that such smiles are encouraging and understanding. Only one sharing a common bond can respond in such a manner.
dLife's Daily Living columnists are not all medical experts, but everyday people living with diabetes and sharing their personal experiences. While their method of diabetes management may work for them, everyone is different. Please consult with your diabetes care team to find out what will work best for you.
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