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Twice.

"I have family members with diabetes, but they don't take care of themselves," he said.  "They eat whatever they want, and they never test their blood sugar, and they never go to the doctor."

The unspoken thought, capping the end of that sentence, felt like, "So they deserve whatever they get."  

I had a hard time keeping my mouth shut, even though I was at this dinner with people I didn't really know, and who didn't really know me.  They were aware of the fact that I have type 1 diabetes, but it wasn't a big discussion point throughout the day, so I think it was a little snippet of information that fell by the wayside by the time dinner was served.

"But how do you know that?" I blurted out.

He stopped and looked at me.  "What do you mean?"

"How do you know they don't take care of themselves?  Or go to the doctor?  Or test their blood sugar?" 

"Because they don't.  I never see it.  Not even at holidays."  

I didn't want to be That Person. I had zero desire to be the one who raises her voice at dinner table with strangers, preaching on about the misconceptions society has about diabetes, and about all the different kinds of people who live with it, blah blah blah.  I wanted to have dinner, and hang out, and have a good time.

But I don't like the "yeah, but the majority of people with diabetes DON'T take care of themselves" argument, because I take care of myself.  I try, and I do.  And I know so many people who take care of themselves the best they can, and so many who, despite dedicated efforts, still run a rough road.  Perfection isn't achievable, and guilt is inescapable.  Chris encourages me to not take these kinds of discussions personally, because he hates to see my feelings scraped, but it's hard not to take it personally.  I have diabetes.  They're talking about diabetes.  Even when I try, it's hard to keep my viewpoints objective.

"Did you see me test my blood sugar at the table a few minutes ago?"

"You did?"

"Yeah.  I have tested twice, actually, at this table.  While you sat there.  And that orange juice I had before?  Which might not have seemed like the 'right' food for a diabetic?  I was treating a low blood sugar.  You don't always see what we do to take care of ourselves.  But there's a lot that we do. I swear."  I smiled at him, but inside I was begging, pleading for him to see me as a person who, however my life wrings out, didn't "deserve" a damn thing.

There was an awkward silence.

"Twice?  You tested twice?"

"Yeah."

This time, he smiled warmly, erasing all awkwardness.  "Maybe they do stuff I don't see, too." 

I smiled back, wanting to jump across the table and hug him. 

"I hope so."

Comments

Love this. And you, for speaking up as you did.

You do stuff. I see it all the time. Not the stuff like testing. I am fairly sure I done ever even see testing when it happen right in front of me. Testing is just kind of yeah so what.

I see you do stuff like hanging out and having a beer and venting about all the stuff that makes diabetes an effing pain in the arse. (no cursing points there right?)

He didn't see you test but saw your smile and maybe learned a little. Some may have seen something maniacal in that smile. Chris was probably all, "Dude I am so glad it is you that is about to get this and not me."That is how we husbands roll.

What I see here is doing stuff about diabetes, and you do it out at dinner and even on holidays. LYMI.

Love this and how you made such an important point without having to engage in an argument or big debate. Such a great example you are for all people who want to speak up about an illness and are afraid to do just that.

I've lately been thinking back on the pre-diabetic me and just how little I knew about diabetes. I thought I knew more than I did but I'm embarrassed for that me like when I had a friend and his wife with diabetes over to dinner and thought I was doing great serving spaghetti and a sugar-free pie. At least your stranger at the table knew about testing and going to the doctor, even if he probably doesn't have a clue about food choices. And I wonder if his family members are T2 which, even when we are really trying, looks less like we're trying since we don't test as much or visibly treat our high sugars.

Anyway, I think it sounds like you handled it really well. You weren't confrontive or rude, you just let him know that we do a lot that others don't see.

If my diabetes management was based solely on what my family members and friends *saw* me do, I would have been dead along time ago! Some people don't like to draw attention to their medical tasks. Did he ever think of that? Sheesh.

I don't see people poop, does that mean no one else does it?

Good for you! I HATE when people make comments like this. "Diabetes" is in the news so much these days, and it's only contributing to the false information people like to throw around like they are "diabetes experts" simply because they read some online article.

Awesome. Awesome. Just awesome. :)

And that comment about poop in Allison's comment cracked me up.

Allison,
I am tucking that little poopie tidbit in the back of my brain....it may come in handy:)

Kerri,
Great post and well written! Loved it!

WOW Kerri. I don't know if I could have held it together like that. Maybe because others have made some pretty snarky comments to me lately and I'm just one person away from blowing my lid about d-control. I commend you for getting your point across in such a calm manner. :-)

Way to go!

Just because you don't see it, it doesn't mean it isn’t happening. Which can be said for a lot of things in this world.

Well done on the education front and quite an aptly told tale for the DOC.

Loved your use of "scraped" regarding feelings.

Grace and prowess! Well done. Well done.

I will be remembering Alison's comment and hoping it doesn't make me laugh at inopportune times.

I just love this post. That is all.

I never want to be that person either....but sometimes it just escapes from our mouths in a split second!

My Dad had every complication under the sun...but he did EVERYTHING he was taught to do, which back in the day was not much...but, through the years he didnt know technology improved. He didnt know there were better ways....he did everything *HE* knew to do, and thats all that matters. Sometimes other PWD just have to stand up for each other :) Love ya Kerri!

Thank you for this, sometimes I feel we are almost too efficient with our ( or in my case my son's) diabetes care. Blood sugars are done, carbs counted and boluses given all in the blink of a well practised eye. People are amazed at the fact that night time checks need to be done, even 5 years down the line and with an insulin pump attached 24/7. Should we be more obvious to show what is and needs to be done - would people understand better if they saw more of what we do to keep healthy? Part of me feels people need to know but I am also torn by the fact that we just want to live our great life without fuss and attention.

You handled that AWESOMELY!!! Good thing the low didn't mess up your ability to kick butt :)

I'm so glad you spoke up. I've been in situtaions like yours and didn't speak up which only made me more angry later.

You are awesome, Kerri!

I would surely not want to reach over the table to hug him
great self control, Kerri !

Fantastic! I'm going to remember this example for future conversations.

ef Yeah! TWICE!!!

Is it weird that I looked for the like button for this post??
LIKE!!

I AM that person! I just can't help myself. I just hope that next time I'm confronted by misconceptions I manage to handle myself with the grace you demonstrated.

Wonderful post.

Today I was at the doctor with my husband. I asked him if he had patients with Type 1 Diabetes. He said he didn't think so, but if he did they didn't have lows like I do. (He is always 1 to 2 hours late and our appointment is always at the end of the day, so I do always end up having to pop a few glucose tablets.)
How could a doctor not know if any of his patients had T1D? And if he doesn't know they have it, how could he know whether they have lows?
So hard to keep composre under these circumstances! Bravo to you for how you handled yourself!!

You are my hero & you rock my world. Thanks for always having our backs. :)

Thank you, Kerri, for sticking up for all of us. I'll try to be sure I always do too.

Well put! I have sooo been that person who wanted to say something but didn't articulate if well and so if wasn't always well received. Now I have the words!

Thank you.

God bless you!!!

Sitting in class recently, self care came up, which means someone was going to bring up diabetes .. it happens in every class at some point ... (odd for a psych program .. but apparently, society has made diabetes the poster child for self destruction)

The comment was coming and I could feel my defenses raise ... the tone of the conversation .. the professors knowing, condescending and authoritative tone, confirming the uneducated judgmental comment ... and by then my armor was up but I could not keep my mouth shut (dang it!)

"If you do not take care of yourself, you will get diabetes, in today's world there is no reason to get diabetes"

I timidly mentioned type 1 and it was dismissed as if "they could help it too" .. with the words "that's just a label, it's still a pattern of self destruction"

Another classmate chimes in ... "and you know, if you get pre diabetes, it is a given that you will get diabetes and soon"

and then it was all too personal ... "Excuse me, I've been taking prednisone for 20 years. It is what has been the major cause of my weight. It IS the cause of my pre diabetes. However, I've been in a stable state since they found it when I was 40. They told me if I didn't take care of myself it would become diabetic. I hit 45 and my doctor commended me, 5 years to not tip over is remarkable. I'm 47. My A1C is below 4. My fasting labs are always below 95. My insulin resistance is totally controlled, it was a shocking 100, when it should be below 10, it is now at 8 and has not been over 10 in over 3 years. Not EVERY person who is at risk for developing it will get it. Some of us DO take care of ourselves ...
Type 1 is autoimmune and they can't help it anymore than I can help having lupus.
Not everyone with Type 2 is sloppy sloven obese, I can name 3 people off the top of my head with type 2 and are all normal, to under weight.
The disease is not the stereotype and the patients deserve better than judgments."

I have a transcript of what I said because my classmate,friend sitting next to me and recorded it ...

When did diabetes become the poster child for self destruction?

This is so telling of the perception of diabetes. Even shows on TV make such assinine references to diabetes it makes me sick.. if you have a show on tv, how about being responsible enough to get some facts out there and talk to real people who bravely handle it every day. I hate the stupid diabetes jokes too. if you have that powerful of a means of communication, then do some research, make a difference, don't keep passing on the standard remarks and ignorant comments about diabetes. Here is a perfect example about people who don't really have information yet feel they can make a comment about people who really deal with a difficult and life changing situation. Bravo to you for trying to make a difference!

Wow... what do I do that others don't see? Sounds like a blessing/curse kind of thing. Love, love, love this post.

This is just AWESOME.

On the flip side of comments like this person's? I know people who think that testing your blood sugar and avoiding certain foods and just CARING what your blood sugar is when you have diabetes is just, well, dumb. These are people without diabetes, of course. When I test my bg, I never do it in front of them. Sad, but true.

It's either "You brought on your own diabetes" or "Why are you paying so much attention to this? Relax!"

Good Call, Kerri!!!

I needed this post. I feel so obvious in my diabetes management that it's easy for me (even as a person with diabetes myself) to assume that other people aren't taking care of their diabetes because I don't see them taking care of themselves. But how many people out there don't see me taking of myself and therefore assume I don't?

Comments like that are probably about the toughest for me - I just never know how to respond to them. But the way you handled it, and let him know how much he isn't seeing even when it happens right in front of him, was PERFECT. I will keep this in mind next time I'm in this situation - THANK YOU!!

Love it! Awesome response (and control, lol) on your part! thanks for sharing this story.

If people don't see you test they think you don't and are a "bad diabetic." If people see you test, they think you test all the time and are a "bad diabetic."

A friend told me that her classmate must have better control of her diabetes because she doesn't test as often as me. I asked how she knew that her classmate did test covertly.

People are too quick to judge. You set him straight in a fairly nice way.

This is a great post. I don't have enough in person meetings where D is discussed to have developed the grace that you showed. I wish there was a "this is all the stuff you should know about diabetes" button that we could push at times like this one. A button that would just instantly inform the uninformed. I'm certain that I wouldn't have handled that conversation anywhere near as tactfully as you did.

Thanks for another wonderful post! I'm going to share this on Facebook.
Blessings!

Way to go! I don't think I would have handled that situation with such grace and control. I've been dealing with a woman at work who just LOVES to talk about how many calories she consumes in a day....ugh... "It's so hard to be healthy" she says like she can relate! I don't (and I never will) count how many calories I consume in a day. And I don’t drink protein shakes to be healthy – I eat/drink them because they are only 4 carbs and there’s no shot required. I COUNT CARBS BECAUSE I HAVE TO! I do the insulin and then I move on with my day. I guess she thinks she's being nice because she "can relate" (she likes to say that every darn day) so I listen and smile. But in the back of my head I just imagine hitting her really hard! (Gosh is that mean?!?!)

You are my hero for dealing with this situation the way you did and for sharing your stories...your blog makes me feel like I’m kinda normal (or at least that there are people out there who feel like me). I just want to give you a big THANKS for that!!!!

Its amazing how judgemental people can be about things that have such little comprehension.
I always argue that for whatever reason its the one condition in the world where apparently else is the world's biggest expert even more so than the one with the illness.
It would be nice to correct this and I guess we all do by these kinds of conversations
Its nice to have a little giggle when the ill-informed are proven wrong

Love your response to this situation Keri, but it also still leaves me frustrated. Not with anything you did of course, but with the on-going lack of education the general public has regarding Diabetes - much less knowing the difference between Type I and Type II. If you tell someone you have a loved one that has cancer (heaven forbid, but it has happened to me so I can write firsthand), you get an immediate sense of understanding and empathy. Not so with Diabetes - in fact, you receive the opposite sometimes as you point out ("so they deserve whatever they get").

Diagnosed at the age of 39 (5 years ago), I too was completely ignorant of this disease having never been personally exposed to it in my lifetime. I think most PWD would have a far easier time with BS management if they had positive re-enforcement from society rather than contempt. Education on a mass scale is what is needed but sometimes it starts with small battles like the one you chose to fight in this situation Keri. Kudos. Soldier on.

I've often reflected on the many stereo types that I (we) fit into and the perceived notions people place without actual education or information.

I'm sure I can speak for many other PWD when I say thank you for bringing some humanity to this disease.

Thank you Kerri - Brilliant! Great story. I am going to try to remember what both you and Allison said :) and use them the next time I'm facing a similar situation.

Kerri-thank you for speaking up and being an advocate for us, and furthermore, for doing it with such eloquence.

Way to represent Kerri! I must tell you that when reading this I felt like I was at the table hearing this as well. It was actually uncomfortable for me to read! Despite wanting to I wouldn't have responded.
The way you addressed this very common type of remark I think was great. Thanks to you next time I hear something like this, I am going to be a person who responds. Thanks for sharing your thoughtful and 'real' D content. : )

It was great to re-read this piece. Maybe Chris could include this in one of his screenplays and do some on-screen advocacy?? (Thx Chris:))

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