I am not thinking of HCP’s or medication or anything of that sort – but of people – family, friends and work or classmates. Their knowledge and attitude to our diabetes makes an enormous difference to how we cope with it.
Type 1’s of course, need to ensure that those around them know how to deal with a hypo and how to get help if necessary. Parents of diabetic children have to liaise with the school on arrangements for their care. The situation is a little less obvious for T2’s and other types not on insulin. In these cases it is necessary to attempt to make people understand dietary requirements, and to accept that the condition is not part time and that not taking care of diet and exercise or not taking medication can result in dire consequences. It may also be necessary to ensure that regular breaks and meal breaks may be taken. “Just once won’t hurt”, is a common response to a diabetic refusing cakes, sweets etc. To accept will lead to further offers. None of us like to appear different to our peers but it would probably save time and prevent misunderstandings in the future, to be open and honest with everyone. To explain what you hope to achieve and how they can help. It won’t happen overnight but gradually it will be accepted and your friends can help to combat any backsliding on your part. It’s so easy to miss lunch and grab some sugary or carby snack for example. If it is known that you are diabetic this might be avoided. Others could ensure you have a break or offer to find something more suitable for you to eat. If your workplace has restaurant facilities they may be happy to put a suitable meal aside for you. It must be worth approaching them.
Families can often be the most difficult to cope with because food is mixed up with love and nurturing in the minds of many and they may need to completely rethink their feelings on this matter. This isn’t at all a bad thing but may prove very difficult and take some time. Friends in the US tell me that when diabetes is diagnosed the whole family is asked to visit the physician, so that everyone hears the same information and is involved in helping the newly diagnosed. I am sure that this would be a wonderful idea if the message were acceptable and unlikely to lead to more problems, but as we all know, that isn’t the case. Perhaps, if family members can’t accept the seriousness of the matter they could be asked to accompany you to an appointment – maybe the annual review – and to go through your test results with you. This might help convince them.
Once you convince them you are serious about managing your diabetes you are far more likely to get the necessary support. Diabetics are often invisible, this is not a good thing. It enables the stereotype to flourish, unchallenged. Please speak out to promote understanding for yourself and your fellow diabetics.