So… now that we’ve talked about sharing your diabetes (or not sharing your diabetes) with the people you work with, let’s talk about interacting with others. Non-work others, including people in the diabetes community itself.
Thinking about writing something on this subject was really interesting. So many things we encounter while interacting with others can be charged with emotion. There are some potential land mines here, so let’s tread lightly.
It seems to me that a good place to start on this subject is right where we started on my previous post. You have to decide whether sharing your diabetes, and your diabetes details, and giving up any medical data privacy protections you might enjoy, are worth it. To you.
That said, should you decide to share, there are plusses and minuses you will undoubtedly experience.
Everyone has encountered the “you mean it won’t go away If you eat yogurt?” person. Also, the person who wants to shoo you away from anything that has sugar in it. These situations are relatively easy to deal with, simply by knowing what you’ll take and what you won’t take from someone.
That can change from situation to situation, but can also change based on how we’re feeling that day. It feels really great to set the record straight and debunk myths. But if you feel like you just don’t have enough energy to school another person today? That’s fine too. Their ignorance isn’t your fault.
Most of the time, I do my best to set the record straight when someone spouts off incorrect diabetes information. But there are nuances too. Sometimes, we give what we think is a super explanation of why we need to do a glucose check even though we’re wearing an insulin pump or a CGM (“wait… you’re not cured?”), and the person receiving the information cannot grasp it anyway. Again, not my problem. I tried.
But what I can do in those situations is be grateful they listened at all. I can be patient. I’m not responsible for someone’s ignorance, but they’re not responsible for my diabetes either.
In some situations, maybe all I really can accomplish is to plant a seed in their mind to remember me whenever diabetes crosses their lives again. And that has come in handy, when someone they know has faced a new diagnosis, or a family member wanted to know more about introducing insulin to their Type 2 management. So not everything that seems like a failure really is.
Diabetes or not… kindness, being a good listener, asking respectful questions, and a smile still go a long way with people.
When I worked as a retail manager, I would often hear the phrase “the customer is always right”. I would tell the people working for me that the customer wasn’t always right, but they should never be made to feel as if it’s their fault they’re wrong. That’s sort of what I’m talking about here. Make sense?
We’re so hard wired sometimes to perfectly explain what we know to be the diabetes truths. We have to be, in order to dispel misinformation and advocate for those who cannot advocate for themselves. The more we can do that with a smile, a joke, or a kind word, the happier both I and my family and friends will be.
After all, as much as it’s about being right, it’s also about building relationships, friends, and allies. No matter what, whether you share a lot or a little, remember:
I support you… no conditions.