Do you see me or do you see diabetes? How to deal with the worriers and the micromanagers in your life.

Dr Gary
By Dr GaryCA Latest Reply 2012-03-12 22:29:00 -0500
Started 2012-01-21 22:44:07 -0600

Do you have people in your life that, the day you told them about your diabetes diagnosis, started relating to you as if you had diabetes tattooed on your forehead?

There are people in your life who are going to take it in stride, and relate to you as they always have though, at least initially, with some extra concern about how you are feeling physically and emotionally. Often this is temporary, and just requires some patience and reassurance on your part as they adjust to the news, not unlike the process that you have gone through.

And then there are those people who for some reason, can’t seem to move past your diagnosis, as if everything you say or do is somehow connected to diabetes.

There are a lot of reasons why other people behave this way. Their concern can be the result of feeling like they need to fix you or take care of you and not sure how to do it. Trying to tell you what you should be eating. Drilling you on whether you are getting enough rest. Asking if you are checking your blood. They may try to make their own helplessness go away by trying to manage your life. In other words, projecting their own helplessness onto you.

On the other hand, you may have people in your life who assume that you want them to show their concern. Or who want you to assure that – no problem – they’re willing to talk about diabetes (over and over…).

So where does that leave you? Well, in control, for one thing. And here are some steps you can take to establish the role you want diabetes to play in your relationships.

Be a role model. Yes, your friends and family are keeping an eye on you. You can show them that you are dealing with your diabetes by taking good care of yourself. Signs of that healthy diet and exercise routine may help to reassure them that, while your condition has presented new challenges, you are managing just fine. Actions speak louder than words, as they say.

Try some “patient” education. Encourage your loved ones to ask you questions. Give them information that you think they can understand and that will also provide enough information that they will have a sense of what you are facing. You might want to offer answers to the questions that you suspect your loved ones have but are afraid to ask.

Look for teachable moments. When an issue arises, address it in the moment rather than saving it up as material for your next lecture. If a loved one says or does something that shows lack of understanding or insensitivity, or treats as if you can’t take care of yourself, use that moment to gently let them know how their behavior makes you feel. Some humor can help. “My name is still ___________. I didn’t change it to diabetes. Even though it does kind of have a ring to it.” (smile).

And don’t forget to take care of yourself…

Be your true self. When things don’t feel all that rosy, don’t pressure yourself to pretend otherwise. Let the people you are closest to know when you are having one of those days that we all have from time to time, when the challenges of life, including diabetes, are just plain frustrating. And then let them be there for you, as they have been in the past.

Be gentle, but firm. There is a fine line between being micromanaged and being made to feel disempowered. Set limits by letting people know that you are taking responsibility for your health, that you appreciate their concern, and that you will let them know if you need their help. Some people may need to hear this more than once before it sinks in. Keep in mind that the people who care the most about you can also be a little flat-footed at times, but that they are acting out of love. Patience can go a long way here.

Be optimistic, but don’t expect miracles. We can’t control how other people choose to think or feel or behave. To assume otherwise is a losing proposition. People come around in their own way and in their own time, or, sadly, sometimes not at all.

And so, at the risk of repeating myself: Take care of yourself. And don’t forget that you are a multi-faceted human being. You are not a diabetes.


52 replies

JSJB
JSJB 2012-03-11 04:51:38 -0500 Report

I have not noticed any difference in the way people view me because of this problem. I rarely talk about it except when my wife asks me to put on some weight LOL but I am at the weight I should be. Two things happened to me when I was pre-diagnosed, I started to eat healthier and I found a new family in DC.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2012-03-12 22:29:00 -0500 Report

Hi!

Thanks for sharing this. What a great attitude you have. A diabetes diagnosis can be a wake up call to take better care of yourself, and it sounds like you are taking the challenge.

You have a lot of supportive people in your life. That's great!

Stay in touch!

Gary

shorty31
shorty31 2012-03-11 12:49:30 -0500 Report

then you are blessed. i have had my family to treat me like a child you can't have this or you can't do that. i am not diable that much that i can't have a normal life. all i have to do is watch what i eat and don't for get to take my meds. thank God i don't have to do the needles or who know what they would say my mom is the worse. she blames me for becoming a diabetic i didn't choose it this choose me now i have to deal with it sometimes it does get hard and it do hurt but with faith i can do it.

Caroltoo
Caroltoo 2012-03-11 14:22:15 -0500 Report

I know it doesn't feel good when people/family smother you like that, but it might help you endure some of it if you remember it is your Mom and family trying to show you that they love you and care what happens to you.

That having been acknowledged to them (Thanks, mom, I know you care about me and my health), it is probably also a good time to — without anger — let them know that you and your doctor are taking good care of you and you would appreciate them letting you work with the doctor to learn how best to care for youself.

When they "reoffend", just smile and remind them that's between you and your doctor. When they "reoffend" again, just smile and walk away. When they want to know why, remind them you told them you and your doctor were handling it.

They may escallate and try hard to get you involved again. If you stand firm and don't fight with them, just smile and walk away, they will change. You do have to be stong enough to wait them out. Then their behavior will extinquish because it doesn't get the result/power/reward that they want.

T-2 single dad with T-1 kid
T-2 single dad with T-1 kid 2012-03-10 20:22:24 -0600 Report

When my daughters' blood sugars fluctuate, or she gets sick, people always look towards me as to the cause.

It sounds so simple and easy. Try some of these suggestions in the "real" world, and see what happens. Of course, you all are adults, and can advocate for yourselves. As a single parent, and only "responsible" adult in my daughters' world, things have not worked out so easily. My daughter was diagnosed with type 1, the day after Thanksgiving 2006, at the age of 5. Six months later, my wife of 25 years drops dead of a heart attack, leaving me totally alone and ill-prepared for the impending storm and nightmare which continues to this day. After my wifes' passing, we were forced to move out of our home. You see, three years earlier we had put our place up for sale, and we accepted a bonafide offer within months of her demise. Meanwhile…I was dropping my daughter, Alissa Pearl, off at school and then frantically looking for a place until time to get home and pick her up. Finally finding a place, we moved with the help of my parents. Within six months of settling down, my mom was diagnosed with cancer, and subsequently died six months from diagnosis. Adding to our misfortune, we lost aparrot and dog, not to mention several family friends in rapid succession. I can see now, this was meant to toughen me up for what was too follow. I was able to manage Alissa's diabetes until 2009, when she was first hospitalized post-diagnosis with DKA, depression, and some behavioral issues. The educated professionals could not definitively tell me she had ADHD, but I was bullied into putting her on prozac and ritulin in short order. The more I advocated for my child, the more people I upset or downright pissed-off. I was labeled as being "difficult", and "demanding". Alissa was hospitalized 6 times in three years for a total of 9 inpatient days.

In between and during these hospital encounters, child protective services of Texas (CPS), was called in to document and investigate which began the nightmare that continues to this day. We were being accused and investigated for suspected medical neglect, by people who knew little or nothing about her affliction. From 2009 - 2011, "medical neglect" was ruled out twice. The third attempt by the department was met with a ruleing of "unable to determine". With the fourth invasion, I was exhausted, let my gaurd down, and had issues with the caseworker. With ammunition I unwittingly provided, she was able to fabricate enough of a story to justify taking my daughter from her home with the justification of concerns for her 'saftey" or in their words, because of numerous hospitalizations, fluctuating blood sugars, and my big mouth (refusal to come up with a "safety" plan). Without a spouse, and limited support system, CPS has been able to bully and torture us at free will. I hired an attorny to guide and protect me through this ordeal, but I fear has lost interest in me or the complications involved. This runaway freight train has gone from suposed re-unification to almost certain termination and destruction of our family.

Is there anone out there with suggestions, advice, help, or prayers that might get Alissa Home???

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2012-03-12 22:26:51 -0500 Report

Hi!

I read your note with sadness. Your story is heartbreaking, the tragedies that have come your way so close together, the incredible lack of support. Not to mention the your treatment at the hand of CPS.

I don't know how the system works. But I am sending a lot of prayers your way.

I hope that other members read your reply and give you some helpful ideas. You might also want to post your reply as a separate discussion so that it gets more attention. Lots of people on this board have had to deal with government agencies in some way. It can't hurt.

And I hope that you will stay in touch with us. Let us know what's going on.

My thoughts are with you,

Gary

Gabby
GabbyPA 2012-03-11 10:03:00 -0500 Report

I have to say that CPS is not really an agency that tends to live up to it's name. At least our version here DCF is not. I can offer little but prayers for you and to say to focus on loving your little one and making her the focus of your parental attention. Is Alissa in their custody now? You say to bring her home?

daydreamer630
daydreamer630 2012-01-24 10:06:00 -0600 Report

I'm not sure about you guys but when everyone found out not only did they do just about everything said above but it like they seem to think because I have diabetes I know everything about all illnesses. People come up to me and talk about their colds like it relates to how I'm feeling. Its kind of amusing at first but living with diabetes I like to hear uplifting things not about your great Aunt twice removed that had diabetes.
PS. Don't get me wrong I love helping people!
PSS. Anyone else experience this?

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2012-01-24 17:36:55 -0600 Report

HI,

Your post is really interesting. I guess they must think that you are working closely with your doctor and probably having all kinds of enlightening discussions with him/her about illness. Or maybe they think you are so involved in your own self-care that you have picked up all kinds of random knowledge along the way. And yes, I am sure you like to help other people but who wants to discuss other people's medical diagnoses all day.

As Gabby said so well, it is a way of relating to you, though kind of a flat-footed approach.

People are always people, right?

It might help to gently change the subject. Just don't change it to politics!

Gary

Gabby
GabbyPA 2012-01-24 11:34:44 -0600 Report

Yes it is funny how things get so messed up. People don't know how to relate to us and think the only thing we want to talk about is our battle. So they have to share their war story, as to not feel that they cannot relate to us. Kind of backwards, but people want some kind of connection...usually it is just kind of a creepy one.

eevie
eevie 2012-01-23 17:49:57 -0600 Report

Have just joined DC and found the community incredibly inviting. Found this post extremely helpful and reflective of how I've been feeling. Most of my family and friends have been supportive, though definitely have felt that some have veered on the side of imposing. Thanks for the post.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2012-01-23 21:56:59 -0600 Report

Hi eevie,

You are welcome, my friend. I am glad to hear that you have some supportive people in your life. And you certainly have a lot of them right here!

See you around!

Gary

granniesophie
granniesophie 2012-01-23 14:18:45 -0600 Report

I get my support from the people here, and have made some very good "virtual " friends here.
I get nothing at home, so lately I have taken me into my own hands and just decided to take better care of myself.
No one needs to know, because no one really cares. As long as they have their needs taken care of, mine are not so important, so I will just take care of myself.
I have learned to say no to foods I can't have, and I have learned not to be bothered when anyone else eats them. There are other things to eat, and so what. And I will exersice, and if I am not home to make dinner, so what.
I only go low at work, waiting for the people to get ready to go to lunch, since they don't need to eat at the same time each day, so now I eat a snack if they are piddle-farting around. Not their problem if I have a disease they don't have. Not like cancer they can get over, I will have this forever. My problem to deal with, not theirs.
No one wants to be educated, so I just shut up about it, my disease, not theirs.
And sometimes I think, if it were you, I'd want to help, to listen, to be there. But that's me, not you. My disease, my problem.

J Kate
J Kate 2012-01-24 11:09:04 -0600 Report

I feel and share your frustration. It would be nice to have those around you take an interest in the everyday challenge of the diebetic diet. However, the number of those living with diabetes increases every year, so I would say it is OUR disease, and OUR problem. You may feel alone where you are geographicly, and there are many others who feel exactly like you do. Don't be too quick to count everyone out. You may end up shutting out people who would take an interest. Being open and giving people a chance is not such a bad thing. If they do not respond, just remember that is a choice about them, not you. Continue to listen and help. Continue to be who you are.

granniesophie
granniesophie 2012-01-24 11:18:37 -0600 Report

Well, since I'm not liking the alternative, I shall continue to be who I am! Perhaps there are people out there who have open minds, or maybe I should say, working brain cells and they would be in my active circle of acquaintances, but I don't have time to find them, so I shall remain me, here, with you all, the friends I have made and like very much!!

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2012-01-23 21:55:48 -0600 Report

Hi granniesophie,

You sound pretty frustrated in your post, and disappointed that the people in your life are not doing much to support you. I don't blame you. It amazes me that people can be such good takers but not really care whether they are good givers or not.

Sometimes when people behave this way, they are acting out of fear. They want to pretend that everything is the way it has always been, and that someone they rely on is not dealing with a chronic condition. If so, it is their issue. Still, it's hard to be on the receiving end.

You are wise to take the bet care of yourself possible, and to put your own self-care first. This is a very good idea.

I am glad that you have so many friends here on Diabetic Connect. Virtual friends can still be real friends.

Glad to be in touch with you!

Gary

granniesophie
granniesophie 2012-01-24 05:03:21 -0600 Report

You may be right about the fear. At home, at least. And lack of understanding. Apparently no person in Croatia ever, ever gets Diabetes!!
At work, it's every person for themselves And who cares who's feelings are hurt in the climb over your back to go…no where!! And if it ain't religion or politics, office or otherwise, it ain't nothin'!! Breast cancer is the only disease that matters here, and I don't have that, thank G-d, that's why I just shut up anymore!!

jigsaw
jigsaw 2012-01-23 08:39:34 -0600 Report

After reading this post and the replies, there is obviously conclusive evidence here ! Many of the people here are sensitive, informed, educated and they make it so worthwhile to be a part of DC. I am one of the earlier members and I have seen much positive growth, in many ways within DC and its members ! It's an amazing place to find and share information.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2012-01-23 21:15:31 -0600 Report

Hi jigsaw!

I totally agree with you. This is the most supportive community on earth. It gets better every day.

I hope you are doing well!

Gary

Set apart
Set apart 2012-01-23 06:25:51 -0600 Report

Thanks Dr. Gary, what an insight, as many here know my nickname comes from feeling exactly this way upon diagnosis, suddenly I was set apart from everyone, at least that's how I felt. as a T1 I recently diagnosed I so admire others such as Dietcherry and her dedication in not only taking care of herself, but trying to help others. I am doing my best these days to take care of myself, but have been a bit down on myself lately Dr. Had advised me that because I had such high antibodies, and honeymoon period on and off my body would need more insulin. It does some days and some days I fight the lows all day. What worked one day before doesn't work everyday. It's frustrating, I carry my lunch bag with snacks, oj, insulin etc to work. I also have a binder which is like my bible, where I log everything, some of my coworkers initially would come in and say things like, " you eat really good we should all eat like you, or others that are close to me will want to buy lunch and feel bad for me cuz they want to bring me something, but have no idea so they apologize with good intentions. My family has been the greatest supporters of all they are in constant watch over me, I think what bugs me is people who also look at me and say things like "wow you look good you don't even look like you're sick.". Like diet cherry I want to let people know through the last five months I have come to realize that in this rural community where I live there is so little education and knowledge regarding D and even that there Are two T1 and T2. I guess when I first found out about this I wanted the medical Drs. To find the balance for me since I am highly organized and need structure, now I know I am the only one that can do this along with their assistance. I have struggled to find a good Endo and not sure if I have one yet. I have read books and info. To try to learn as much as I can. There is so much the foods, the time you eat, supplements, exercise, it's an every day mission with T1, oh and let's not forget stress factors and hormones which can also disrupt our BGs, so with all this said Dr. Gary I continue to live life so as to not bring any attention to myself and thank God every day for this site and people like you advocating for people like US! Louise

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2012-01-23 21:14:07 -0600 Report

Hi Louise,

Thank you so much for your fantastic reply to my post. It was really great that you took the time to tell me more about you and your experiences. Your reply is so well written and honest. I hope that it catches a lot of eyes!

Receiving a medical diagnosis really does result in a lot of changes in your life, especially for someone like you who is clearly taking responsibility for your self-care and doing everything you can to stay healthy. But with those changes can come the feeling of being different. Eating is such a social thing in our culture, and in most cultures. And to need to eat differently than the people around you, and to have to pay so much attention to what you eat, is inevitably going to make you feel separate from other people.

What's ironic is that, like some of your co-workers said, the diet you are having to follow is also a really healthy diet. Yes, not as much fun as carbs and desserts, but healthy. So your co-workers may be feeling a little guilty about what's on your plate and what's on theirs.

As for the insensitive comments, people are people. Often, what is intended to be compliment, and even to make you feel better, is so flat-footed that you end up feeling the opposite. That's where we have to constantly remind ourselves that people are going to say what they are going to say. If we can latch onto those teachable moments, so much the better.

When you live in a community without a lot of resources, you are really left to your own devices. Fortunately, you are an organized, and empowered person. And there is so much great stuff on the Internet, along with Diabetic Connect!

I hope that your relationship with your doctor progresses. There is so much information out there that you can arm yourself with questions for your doctor, as well as discuss what you have learned.

It's great to be in touch with you! Please keep me posted on what you're doing and let me know if I can help.

Take care of yourself!

Gary

Young1s
Young1s 2012-01-22 12:31:46 -0600 Report

I love this discussion Dr. Gary. I'm still early in my D life and haven't encountered these "types" (and I don't mean diabetics) as yet but will remember this for future reference, when I do.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2012-01-22 15:40:05 -0600 Report

HI Young1s,

Thanks for checking in. I am glad that this is helpful! It never hurts to be prepared for what you might encounter in the future. Being proactive never hurts.

Stay in touch!

Gary

dietcherry
dietcherry 2012-01-22 11:13:57 -0600 Report

Great Discussion Dr Gary!!

As I always say here, D has been my constant companion since 1981.

For years I was told that I made having D look easy or I looked too healthy to have D. Although I appreciate the sentiment, there is very little that is easy about being T1.
The only negative experience Ive had regarding D and my diet was in 1984 when I was 16. In the year of my diagnosis, 1981, we were still being told NO SUGAR; the rules were relaxed soon after to include it as a carb. A girl witnessed me eating a candy bar. She knew my D status and immediately panicked and said I couldnt eat that! I told her it was okay to have sugar but it only served to escalate her stance and she revealed the horror story of her late grandmother who lost both legs, and eventually her life, to T2 because she refused to restrict her carbs and sugar intake. What a way to lose your grandmother :(

I burned with shame at that moment. I did give up sucrose for good that same year but this experience played a minor role in my decision.

Although there are probably few of us here who have had D since the "dark ages" of D awareness, unless they too are T1's, let me stress that this was the prevailing attitude and its not uncommon for some to still feel this way.

My family, friends, and co-workers have been nothing short of amazing in listening to me and trusting that I know what is best. I educate all who ask; if I overhear anyone spreading misinformation about D, I step up and correct it.

This is what empowers me about having D! I dont have to be a healthcare professional to teach the world about this disease. D is growing to crisis status and it is just shameful for anyone not to teach others about the very real dangers of this disease if given the chance!

Ive been forced to think about my health everyday for almost 31 years. I take NOTHING for granted; I dont have the luxury. I plead my fellow diabetics here to educate educate educate others, even those you dont think are listening; you may just save a life!!

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2012-01-22 15:38:16 -0600 Report

Hi dietcherry!

Wow, what a fantastic post. This is really so full of wisdom and so well written. I am honored that my post motivated you to write such an incredibly reply.

One of my take-aways is that we don't always know what other people have experienced. And they are acting out of that experience. So your friend's experience with her grandmother left her with fears about diabetes that don't reflect the whole picture, but are what she views as reality. Kind of like being left with a very black and white viewpoint based on an extreme example.

So, as you said, she was acting out of concern, though you were left with at least temporarily embarrassed, not to mention disempowered.

It speaks to your positive attitude and inner strength that you, in turn, take the opportunity to educate other people whenever you have the chance. That is the best way to bring them out of the dark ages and into enlightenment.

And you probably are saving some lives.

Thank you and have a great week!

Gary

dietcherry
dietcherry 2012-01-22 20:53:20 -0600 Report

Thanks Doc! There is so much more to the story but space doesnt permit. My friend just knew that sugar killed her grandmother—end of story. She really believed that that very candy bar was going to be the death of me! :)

We know it was D, but as you say, her perception was her reality and in her reality, sugar was the enemy.

I can only hope people are listening when I tell them what the true enemy is!!!

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2012-01-23 20:47:15 -0600 Report

You are welcome! It is interesting how one experience can cause people to see the world in a very black and white way. We see examples of this all over the place, don't we? And yes, I hope people are listening. All we can do is keep getting the word out. I hope your week is off to a good start!

Gabby
GabbyPA 2012-01-22 10:44:19 -0600 Report

I absolutely love the line “My name is still ___________. I didn’t change it to diabetes. Even though it does kind of have a ring to it.” (smile). Oh, that is another one for my arsenal. Dr. Gary you are the best. You always find a way to say what we are feeling.

DeanaG
DeanaG 2012-01-22 01:20:01 -0600 Report

Everyone around me would rather forget that I am diabetic and not talk about it.

ReyMitch
ReyMitch 2012-01-24 03:44:31 -0600 Report

Hi dr Gary and D center friends. This is my first blog hopefully not the last! I am a retired US Navy/Air Force Veteran, also w/ T2 d. I read all of the posted stories, and commend all your bloggers for their helpful wards. Not 2 brag, but being a retired veteran, and going to a VA hospital you get to see many war ravaged men and women railroaded in and out of the system whether they want to be there or not! Diabetes Health Issues, and sickness in the us military, are just the tip of a bigger chunk of ice not seen by a uninformed eye!!! If you were to look at Type 1/2 D, or any other sickness as a deck of playing cards, you would notice that every single card in the deck is different, with a different set of values. All this means is, we are all different in many ways but we can still work together to make changes happen for our health-good:).

No matter what our health issues are, we are not alone, we are all friends looking for a better way to get to the next level without destroying ourselves, but helping a friend along the way!

God Bless all of you, in health,

Rey Mitch

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2012-01-22 15:30:30 -0600 Report

Hi Deana,

You bring up a good point here. The flip side of micro-managing is completely avoiding the topic of diabetes, pretending it isn't there, and not offering any support at all.

I am glad that you are here!

Gary

pixsidust
pixsidust 2012-01-22 00:19:34 -0600 Report

I had that at work and some here at home with my son.
My son researched as much and as hard as he could.
There was a bit of I told you so and if I have problems
I must not be doing something right.

Everything I ate was looked at where I once worked
Made me mad the lack of understanding
because while I tried to educate, it fell on deaf ears
They were determined they knew and had that one shoe fits all mentality.
We all are so different and no one is exactly the same

The justification was that if they did not care they
would not say anything, perhaps thats a bit true
but I also think there are busy bodies in the world

I know I am not my disease
It is however my companion
We dance and dialog daily

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2012-01-22 15:22:57 -0600 Report

HI pixidust,

This is great! You really identified what I often hear, the feeling that you are being painted with one broad brush, along with being treated like you can't be trusted to be responsible for yourself. Even when it comes out of concern. So I guess we can say that part of that dance and dialog is learning to manage the micro-managers.

Thanks a lot!

Gary

TsalagiLenape
TsalagiLenape 2012-01-21 22:55:13 -0600 Report

Well I have none of those people around me. They just rather not hear anything about my health or whatever concerns I may have. I should only focus on their lives and issues. Well that stopped and thus I have no friends whatsoever aside from one person. Otherwise, doing what I can alone.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2012-01-22 15:17:30 -0600 Report

Hi Tsalag,

Like Jeanae, I am also sorry that are feel so alone. You have a lot of support right here on DC, and I am glad that I run into you a lot. This is a great place to get some of the support that you aren't getting in your day to day life. It sounds like you are surrounded by some very self-absorbed people who are better at taking than they are at giving. Sometimes it is best to accept, to not expect so that we aren't disappointed. And then look to others to get what we need. You have us for that! I am glad you are here,

Gary

Jeanae
Jeanae 2012-01-22 09:36:20 -0600 Report

sorry you feel alone. Thankful you have the one friend. I went through this with some friends when I was diagnosed. Lost some good ones. But… some people come in our lives for a season and then leave. If you ever need a friend- I am here.

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