Tackling Diabetes Ignorance

Hey, All — if you’ve got questions about navigating life with diabetes, then you’ve come to the ideal place! That would be our weekly diabetes information column, Ask D’Mine, hosted by veteran type 1 and diabetes writer Wil Dubois at New Mexico.

Wil puts down his foot from overseas. Apparently, this exasperating phenomenon exists all across the world…

Shammy, type 1 in the Philippines, writes: I’m afraid you already have answered the exact same question repeatedly, but I’m facing a problem all PWDs are: How do you describe to someone, a non-PWD rather than a Type 1 in particular, that drinking water soaked with okra overnight wouldn’t cure us, and would making other oddly named grass (or blossoms as they call it) tea nor eating a certain superfood?

That is indeed tiring because my parents wouldn’t even try to know what I want is to inject myself with insulin every day for the rest of my life. If I try to describe to them, they’re just going to say about my face that “I’m not the only person on the planet with it,” and I’d just feel awful. Because sadly, I know they’re referring to Type 2s who can (or may not) benefit from trying those things. They constantly force me to drink and eat, then “educate” me that I do not have to rely on my D-kit, saying things would’ve been much better if I just try. I can’t, although I did try. Besides not helping at all as I have discovered, (these teas) flavor bad — very bad. Spare some tips and ideas? I’m willing to memorize a paragraph or a word to keep their mouths minds open and closed. Thanks!

Wil@Ask D’Mine answers: Hi Shammy, I’m sorry to hear you are having difficulty with well-intended morons. Regrettably, as you say, this is a problem. I will help you craft an elevator speech about them at a minute, but first I would like to deal with the serious problem of your parents’ lack of D-knowledge. I suspect this is also a problem, at least for those of us who obtained type 1 as adults.

Parents of PWDs who undergo type 1 as children had the “great luck” to find out a whole lot about type 1 at a driven fashion: They were thrown to the diabetes melting pot with their children as a family unit and they heard together. Those people diagnosed as adults needed to learn how to navigate this twisted street in our own. Our parents didn’t have exactly the opportunity to learn with us as we mastered our diabetes.

But have two choices with your parents. It is possible to insist that they find out about what you’ve got and measure up to the plate, or that they stop giving advice. You have to select that you want, and you have to keep your choice.

Should you decide you want them to measure up, I suggest you say something like: “Yes, I know I’m not the only person on the planet with this, but I’m the only person in this household who does, and I really need your assistance and support.” Make your requirement: They need to begin coming with you to teacher appointments and your doctor.

Should they refuse, or when you choose to go the other route, when they begin to provide advice just hold up your hand and say: “My diabetes, none. I’m in charge. Thank you, now let’s change the topic.”

Of course, it wouldn’t hurt to provide your parents one of the Behavioral Diabetes Institute’s Diabetes Etiquette Cards. Additionally, it comes from Spanish, which I’m guessing could be a better choice for your people, given where you reside?

On to this well-intended morons who are pushing unsolicited D-cures on you (a few of that, as you say, might have some positive impact on kind 2s). I’m not being flippant when I call these folks morons that are well-intended. People who offer us stern advice on “curing” our diabetes really do mean well, they just don’t have of the facts. And while it is tempting to load up the snark cannons and fire a broadside we actually should not. I really don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m becoming more and more alarmed about the diminishing lack of civility in culture.

Additionally, if you have the opportunity to think providing information to someone you hardly know, or to a complete stranger and step back, is a huge act of courage. It should be rewarded with, at a minimum, honor. And more. Rather than being exasperated, we can choose to view this as an opportunity to educate.

I tell you everything. I will offer you two tools now. One is an elevator education speech to keep people’s mouths shut and minds open — whenever you have the mental, physical, and spiritual power, which you can deploy . But I also wish to provide a reserve alternative — a polite reaction while you don’t have the ability to use to you.

To begin with, try this for size: “Why thank you for this information. You know, I have heard that (insert miracle remedy here) helps a few people with type 2 diabetes, but I have the other kind of diabetes. It’s called type 1 diabetes, also it is an autoimmune condition where the body destroys the cells. Scientists, physicians, and shamans all over the world have tried virtually everything imaginable to help individuals but insulin is the one thing which works, and alternative remedies can actually make us very sick or even kill us. So for my family, also for my health, I want to stay with what I know works. But thank you again for your concern and advice, I really enjoy it (insert fake grin here).”

Don’t hesitate to change this to your style of talking. You can expand on what kind 1 is, but I suspect if you do, then you are going to realize that the person’s eyes glaze over. So I think trumps.

Public education isn’t a banquet. It happens a grain of rice.

When you don’t have the capability to be the fountain of public education, I propose that the following answer: “Thank you so much, that is so kind of you to suggest. You know, I tried that back when I was first diagnosed and it didn’t work for me, but maybe I could try it again some time soon.”

And that’s all you want to say. You have been kind and non-confrontational, but you’ve efficiently (and only) ended the conversation.

This is not a medical advice column. We’re PWDs publicly and publicly sharing the wisdom of our collected experiences — our been-there-done-that understanding in the trenches. But we’re not partridges in pear trees, or MDs, RNs, NPs, PAs, CDEs. Bottom line: we are a small part of your total prescription. You still need the advice, therapy, and care of a licensed medical practitioner.

Disclaimer: Content created by the Diabetes Mine team. For additional information click here.


This content is made a consumer health blog, for Diabetes Mine. The content isn’t medically reviewed and does not adhere to Healthline instructions. To learn more about Healthline’s partnership with Diabetes Mine, please click here.

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