My company offered a great incentive recently. Answer a few questions, go through a health screening, get your blood pressure, cholesterol, and your glucose checked. At the end of it all, they put a few extra bucks into my flexible spending account, which I can use to pay for things my medical plan doesn’t cover (like the co-pay on test strips).
So I went for my scheduled screening about 20 minutes after my lunch. I informed the screener that I was Type 1 so he wouldn’t have a cow when he checked my BG. He went through all of the tests, including the glucose check (with a One Touch meter).
The result: 160 mg/dL
So I’m thinking, “Hey, I’m at 160 only 20 minutes after lunch? Brilliant!”.
And that’s when the screener said: “Sir, of course you know this because you’re type 1, but you should always maintain a blood sugar below 140”.
Me: “But I just finished eating a little over twenty minutes ago”.
Screener: “Yes, but FDA guidelines suggest that you should keep your blood glucose at 140 or lower constantly”.
Me: “Okay, first of all, I’m pretty sure that’s incorrect, and second, I just ate… wait a minute… you just came back before I sat down right?”.
Screener: “That’s right”.
Me: “Did you just eat?”.
Me: “Go ahead and test yourself. I’ll bet you’re at 160 or higher right now”.
Screener: “Sir, what my blood sugar is doing is not…”
I stopped him right there. I don’t usually like to interrupt people, but I had to do it right then. I stopped him mid-sentence, and said “My point is this: Everyone, every situation is different. When you paint everyone with a broad brush like that, you’re going to scare the crap out of some people who may not have diabetes, and you’re going to make some people with diabetes feel bad”.
Maybe I overreacted. He was just doing his job. Just repeating what he’s told to repeat. They are just words, after all. I was just thinking that I don’t want the next person who sits down after lunch to worry unnecessarily, or feel bad about themselves.
As I was finishing up, he handed me a flyer with some general health information. Among the other items in the 3-sided pamphlet was this nugget, near the bottom of the page:
Hey, it’s just words, right? And maybe I’m a little over-sensitive to these kind of things now. But last time I checked, there wasn’t anything I could do to prevent my diabetes. Or anyone else’s Type 1. And eliminating my diabetes? Sorry for the cliche, but that’s a little like reversing pregnancy.
I know it’s just words, but I did get the e-mail address from the vendor doing the screening, and I sent an e-mail telling them that they should rethink the way they’ve worded their little handout. Again, it could make people feel bad. People who develop diabetes, or have already developed diabetes, could think that they’ve failed somehow. When really, they didn’t have anything to do with it.
Hey, it’s just words. But words can hurt. Or they can heal. Your choice.