For our March 3, 2015 Twitter chat article on family, communication and diabetes, we welcomed our very own diabetes advocate and in-house therapist Dr. Gary McClain (@DrGaryJGD).
Dr. Gary has years of experience and a wealth of knowledge in helping diabetics cope with their diagnosis and improve their familial relationships.
Our beloved Jewels Doskicz (@She_Sugar), RN and Diabetes Patient Advocate, hosted the Twitter chat and shared some of her experience in dealing with type 1 diabetes in her family.
We started off with some brief introductions, with some people tuning in from across the globe:
Then we started off with this question:
Dr. Gary jumped in right away with words of sympathy:
But then he told us that "It can help to get the ball rolling with a question: What would you like to know about what it's like to live with diabetes?" This way we can eliminate misunderstanding and promote communication between us, the diabetes patients, and them, our loving family members.
Others said that family members just don't understand that diabetes is different for everybody and can't always be controlled:
Others want their loved ones to understand that diabetes sometimes comes with mood fluctuation:
In our next question we addressed the potentially harmful situation of people judging us and our diabetes:
Dr. Gary said that judgment can hurt our self-esteem:
Then he tried to explain why some people may be quick to judge:
He then encouraged us to confront our family members directly about the judgment we feel:
Others said that we shouldn't be blamed for our diabetes, including Maureen Sullivan, who is an RN, CDE and CEN:
While others saw that the root of the judgment is probably lack of diabetes education:
We moved on to how diabetes and family relationships intertwine and asked,
Many people were positive about how diabetes has affected their family. Even though they recognize the challenge, many agreed that it creates a sense of family bonding when approached the right way.
Jewels recognized the need for balance:
Dr. Gary advised that the whole family get on board when a family member is diagnosed with diabetes:
We followed with the question:
Dr. Gary had a lot of helpful advice about when to share and how to understand others' thought processes:
Others agreed that being open is key to helping others understand diabetes:
Next we talked about integrating diabetes into our family life without it being the center of attention:
Some suggested adding humor to diabetes and daily life:
Others suggested that it takes time, talking and attention:
Some said that when you're first diagnosed, diabetes is going to feel like it has taken over, but it gets better as you adjust to managing the disease:
But, we should be okay when diabetes collides with family schedules:
And, Maureen reminded us that we are people who happen to have diabetes and it shouldn't consume our lives:
We concluded with this question:
Dr. Gary said that some people are in denial:
Others said it's hard for family members to grasp the full consequences of diabetes:
Many boiled it down to bad education and information:
What a successful Twitter chat! We talked about some deep issues and learned some valuable information on how to manage family relationships and diabetes from Dr. Gary.
Dr. Gary reminded us that we are not alone in our diabetes journey and you can find support here on Diabetic Connect: