How to Deal with Uncomfortable Situations

We’ve all been there. Whether it’s a coworker telling you that you shouldn’t join in on the company cake or a friend who makes an ignorant joke, there are many times where we are put into social situations where diabetes is a brunt of a joke or just blatantly misunderstood.

How does this make a person living with diabetes feel? Well, that depends on the person, their relationship with their condition, their sense of humor, and their ability to let things go. I bet many of us fall somewhere in the middle, which means at times we say nothing but other times, we feel compelled to put some myths to bed and/or educate our friends and family on a disorder that most know so little about.

About a year into my diagnosis, I went to a party and a friend came over, proudly carrying a dessert tray shouting, “Who wants diabetes?” Now in this instance, I was shocked. At that point, I was newly diagnosed and hadn’t been the brunt of a joke yet. I decided to let this one go. It wasn’t directed at one person, and it wasn’t said maliciously. It was just a distasteful joke, considering I hadn’t slept for days, was just coming out of my honeymoon and each day was a new diabetes adventure.

Fast forward to six years later. My son was only six when I was diagnosed but now he is 13 and always has friends over at the house. This summer, the boys were making different mug cakes concoctions and one joked, “We are totally getting diabetes after this.” I wanted to say nothing. I knew my son would be embarrassed if I chimed in. But then, I thought about their friend who lives around the block from us who was diagnosed two years after I was. I thought about him hearing that joke and I decided to educate. I explained that neither I nor the boy around the block did anything to deserve this disease. I told him that it is an autoimmune condition and we just got unlucky. Next, I went on to explain that people living with type 2 diabetes have it for different reasons, including their genetics. Luckily, this kid is an intellectual one who took interest in what I was saying. Maybe I made a difference.

Here are some main ways that I usually like to handle these types of uncomfortable situations:

Cut People Some Slack

I bring this one up first because I feel it’s very important to take a step back and remember — most if us knew nothing about diabetes until we had to. I have a very good friend who lives with Mulitple Sclerosis; she fights her own battle and I can honestly say it’s one I am not familiar with. While I wouldn’t go around making jokes, I also wouldn’t be aware of the impact that they may make.

Lighten Up

It’s okay to get bothered by insensitive jokes, but it can sometimes be better to just laugh and let it go! It’s better for your mental and emotional state and if you have children, you set a good example about not sweating the small stuff!

Keep Your Cool

This doesn’t only apply to uncomfortable situations involving diabetes, but any circumstance that may trigger you to react suddenly. I often have to remind myself to take a step back, wait a few minutes, and then think about how I should approach the situation. The last thing you want to do is unleash on Betty from down the hall because she asked if you should be eating that cookie. There is always a better way to handle these types of scenarios!

Take the Opportunity to Educate

There is a time and a place to educate; it just may not be worth it when it comes to your 96-year-old aunt who still thinks if you would just start exercising, your blood sugars will normalize. But, there are opportunities, and when appropriate, we should all do our part to shed some light on a disease that is in fact, quite time-consuming and quite demanding. You may be pleasantly surprised by the interest and responses you receive.

Choose Kindness

Let’s remember that everyone is fighting a battle we know nothing about. Chances are, if someone is saying insensitive things or making you feel uncomfortable, it is likely more about them than it is you. So remember that, have grace and choose kindness.

Getting upset with uncomfortable situations is understandable and we can all relate. But focusing on the more important things in life is sure to leave you feeling happier and healthier!

Have you dealt with uncomfortable situations surrounding diabetes? How did you handle it? Share and comment below!

Source: diabetesdaily.com

To the Doctor Who Told Me I Couldn’t Have Type 1 Diabetes

Dear Dr. N,

I walked into your office, hopefully optimistic. I was having stomach issues for quite some time and was lackadaisical about it, and it worsened. I checked out a local “mom” Facebook group to find some gastroenterologist recommendations. Your name was mentioned a few times, and your office was less than a mile from my house. I also was hoping to see a woman, so I was thrilled find see this local recommendation and made the appointment.

You came in with a smile, looked me in the eye, and shook my hand, as it was our first time meeting. I immediately felt calm and confident that I picked a good name out of the virtual hat. Until you asked me about the forms, I had just filled out. “I see here you have type 1 diabetes?” you asked. I recited my usual response that yes, I did, for only six years, diagnosed at age 37 and with no family history.

This was the moment that I lost all faith in you as a doctor and as an educated civilian. You looked up at me and started to explain, “Type 1 is diagnosed at birth.” Umm, no, it’s not. And what really felt like a kick in the gut was when you started to lecture me on the two different types of diabetes, explaining condescendingly, that since I was diagnosed as an adult, I have type 2.

It took everything I had not to walk out. After all, I needed the appointment. I needed your expertise. I understand your schooling isn’t in endocrinology, but the lack of pretty basic knowledge was quite concerning.

Moreover, to have someone, let alone a medical professional, tell you that the disease that you battle day in and day out, is in fact, not the disease you have, takes poor bedside manner to an entirely new level. The sleepless nights, the bruises on my body, the low that put me in the back of an ambulance must have been a figment of my imagination. I quickly started to defend my disease and defend the fact that yes, I DO have type 1 diabetes, and I have been on insulin since the day I was diagnosed.

You looked like you barely believed me as you confidently smirked and went on to jot down your notes. You confirmed my age at diagnosis and went on to say, “What took them so long?” This is when I really should have walked out the door. Instead, I was furious and blurted out, “If I had it for much longer, I would HAVE BEEN DEAD.” Clearly, you have zero understanding of this condition.

After I reluctantly went on with the examination, the outcome was that you recommended a colonoscopy because you didn’t like “me or my family’s history.”  As you started to lay out the details of the preparation and what to expect, you told me to stop all insulin the day before. What? Stop all insulin? You couldn’t have said that. But you did. And I responded with, “Do you mean fast-acting insulin because if I stopped taking all of my insulin, I will likely show up tomorrow in DKA (diabetes ketoacidosis).” This is when I knew I was definitely not returning.

I was angry. I was disappointed. I felt helpless. I was not going to let a doctor who had zero knowledge of my disease, try to convince me that I didn’t have type 1 and almost put me into DKA perform my colonoscopy. I canceled my appointment the next day and decided not to give them a reason why. But three weeks later, it is still making my blood boil.

Please educate yourself. Please listen to your patients. Please do not give out dangerous misinformation. Please, I beg of you.

Source: diabetesdaily.com

Food Shaming: Changing How We Talk About Food

This content originally appeared here. Republished with permission.

By Brenda Manzanarez, MS, RD, and Cynthia Muñoz, Ph.D., MPH

You know you shouldn’t be eating that kind of stuff, right?

If you’d just eat better, you wouldn’t have to take so many medications.

I know someone who cut out all carbs and cured their diabetes; have you tried that?

Do any of these comments sound familiar? Maybe someone else has said them to you, maybe you’ve said them to someone, or maybe you’ve thought them about yourself. Either way, comments like this, even if they have good intentions, often come off as judgmental and shaming. This type of “advice” can cause confusion, anxiety, frustration, and an unhealthy relationship with food.

Our Relationship with Food

Food is important when it comes to keeping blood sugar in range, but managing diabetes is not just about glycemic control—we also need to juggle lifestyles, health goals, and mental health.

There are so many factors that influence our food choices, and you cannot see those factors by just glancing at a plate. Food is an important part of our lives, and it can have so many meanings to different people. It can mean health, love, sense of community, or pleasure, but for others, especially people with diabetes, it might cause feelings of anxiety and fear.

Changing the way you eat is a major lifestyle change, and major lifestyle changes always take time.

While you are on this journey, unsolicited advice from strangers and even loved ones can feel more like judgment and might cause you to question yourself or feel guilty about your own choices.

Changing the way you eat is a major lifestyle change, and major lifestyle changes always take time. There are a lot of things to juggle when managing diabetes, so be patient with yourself and with others.

Unintended Consequences

Food shaming often happens when someone’s own preferences and opinions don’t line up with others’. Judgmental comments like “you shouldn’t eat that” may be a projection of their own frustrations or a reflection of their misconceptions about diabetes.

As clinicians who work with children, teens, and young adults with diabetes and obesity, we know that talking about food can be very difficult. We also know that negative comments, pictures, and memes on social media can have a harmful impact on someone’s emotional well-being, especially people with diabetes.

No one should be shamed about their food choices.

No one should be shamed about their food choices. Shame leads to negative feelings about food, which can lead to anxiety, depression, and even disordered eating. And these conditions can cause more damage to physical health than poor diet.

Rethink the Role of Food and Your Health

Instead of thinking of food as “good” or “bad,” or judging people (or yourself) by the way you eat, picture food and eating as being neutral and adopt a non-judgmental way of thinking. The food you put on your plate, is just food that will provide energy and nutrients to fuel your body.

Unlearning what we have been exposed to takes time but being aware of those negative thoughts is a start.

Instead of thinking of food as “good” or “bad,” picture food and eating as being neutral.

Remind yourself that there is no one right way to eat with diabetes— it has to be tailored to your own unique needs— like your budget, taste preferences/favorite foods, cultural norms, cooking skill, time, etc. And you don’t have to feel guilty about enjoying a treat every now and then.

Break the cycle and be nice to yourself and to others. Instead of criticizing people, ask them how they feel about the changes they’ve made and have them decide how they feel about it. If appropriate, provide encouragement.

If you are concerned about a loved one, privately ask how they are doing, and don’t offer advice unless they ask for it. Ask if there is anything you can do to support them, and/or seek information about healthy food choices and incorporate this in your own life as a form of support for your loved one.

If you feel this is a big issue in your own life, don’t be afraid to seek out help—talk to your primary doctor or with a therapist. If you don’t have a therapist ask for a referral from your doctor. To find a mental health provider with knowledge about diabetes, check this directory.

Bottom Line

Food is meant to be nourishment for our bodies and to be enjoyed; find a balance that works for your health, be confident in your choices, and be accepting of other people’s choices.

If you find yourself wanting to criticize someone else’s food choices or appearance, don’t! This is generally not helpful and can have a negative emotional impact.

A neutral and non-judgmental way of thinking is best when talking about food and diabetes; there are no “good” and “bad” foods. The key is to balance what you eat to get the nutrients you need.

If you receive a negative comment from a stranger on social media or in person, remember that person doesn’t know you and how you take care of yourself. Don’t beat yourself up and continue to focus on ways to be the healthiest version of yourself.

Source: diabetesdaily.com

How People Invalidated My Feelings Towards My Diabetes

By Madelyn Corwin

I haven’t felt this way about my diabetes before this year. When I was diagnosed, it was a “do or die” attitude. No time to cry. No time to make my classmates pity me.

My teachers rarely believed me when I said I needed to get a snack for a low of 40. I believed them when they’d tell me, “I’ve had diabetic students in the past, but it’s never been like this. None of them have needed to leave the classroom this much.” I believed them.

I thought I was being dramatic. I thought I was doing something wrong. And that I was annoying. So from those points on, I hid it. Injections in the bathroom and skipping the nurse’s office before lunch. Sometimes I wouldn’t even inject for lunch because I’d be walking with my friend to the lunchroom, and I didn’t want to cut off our conversation because I had to inject myself. I’d skip completely. Because I was always told, “It’s not a big deal,” “You’re fine,” “It’s not deadly.” I didn’t want to be different. And I feared the comments of “Oh, you have to go do that?” because I thought people would think I was weak for injecting myself.

Photo credit: Madelyn Corwin

That’s how bad it got. I’d sit in the class after lunch period, and my vision would be so f***ing blurry, I couldn’t see the board or even focus. And then the teacher would, of course, get mad at me because I couldn’t answer a question they’d randomly called on me for. I’d play soccer with blood glucose levels up in the 350s and think it was fine. I’d get yelled at for “not running to the ball quickly enough.” I didn’t wanna say “because I’m f***ing dying coach!” I didn’t want to be viewed as weak.

I wish I had this community (Diabetes Online Community) when I was in high school and my early college years but I didn’t. I take myself so much more seriously now. I got my first A1c below 7.4% since I’ve joined this community. I’ve gotten rid of my microalbumin. My vision doesn’t blur as bad as it used to during highs. I eat healthier. I always give insulin. I always correct highs. I always change my site. I always check my sugar. I don’t think I would be able to do all that without meeting everyone I met online. Because I was conditioned to believe I was fine. That nothing was wrong. That I was normal. But that was the furthest thing from the truth.

 

I was made to feel for 8 years of having type 1 diabetes that my disease wasn’t serious and that if I complained about it, the typical reply was “at least you don’t have cancer.” I am so glad I found thousands of other type 1s online, especially those who’ve lived with this since they were kids as well that I can relate to. I used to have thoughts in my head like, “This s**t is so f***ing hard. Why am I always being told it’s not a big deal by perfectly healthy people?” or “I can’t believe I’ve had to do this since I was a kid and I have to do this for the rest of my life and everyone’s first response is, ‘At least, it’s not cancer.’”

I stayed quiet for seven years. I didn’t share with my online friends what was wrong with me because I was conditioned to believe it “wasn’t a big deal.” I thought if I told people what was wrong with me, they wouldn’t care, or they’d just say the typical “well, it’s manageable!” comments. I even hid the struggles from people I dated, which caused me to not take good care of myself because I wouldn’t correct if I was high because I didn’t want them to think I’m being dramatic or “too serious” about diabetes.

Photo credit: Madelyn Corwin

Photo credit: Madelyn Corwin

I’m so glad I found all of you. It helps me feel more validated for all the hard work I put in every hour of the day just to see the next. I feel my hard work to keep my body alive is finally recognized through the people I met online. I don’t think I was ever validated like this before. I was told I was “normal” and “can do anything” but I’m so glad I met some of you all to tell me that we aren’t normal, and we do need to have boundaries, and that’s OK. Thank you.

Source: diabetesdaily.com

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