The grossly uninformed public! I think this is one of the hardest things for me in the management of my diabetes. I can handle the highs, the lows, the shots, the constant, unrelenting vigilance that one has to put into managing this disease- and I do fairly well with this most of the time. My biggest wish is that people would understand this ONE BASIC CONCEPT: how to treat a low!
But the one thing that can send me reeling is people. Misinformed people. They make me wild!
I love to square dance and do it most every night. This is, for me, 12 hours after the start of very busy days. I work full time as a mother to a special needs child who can do nothing for himself. He is almost as big as I am now, and it takes all I have to handle him on top of my Type 1. By the time the dance begins at 7 p.m., I’ve already put in a long hard day full of lows and highs and all the other junk we put up with as PWD’s. I’m also the line dance leader between the square dances, so I get no breaks. It’s no wonder I crash so often at a dance.
Herein lies my worst diabetic problem…..people who don’t understand diabetes and deny me what I need because of their misinformation.
I was low and heading lower the other night at the dance so I slipped into the kitchen to grab a little snack. I’d already treated the low but just needed a little something with fat in it to hold that number up for a while. I chose a small cookie and proceeded to munch on it. Enter the PERSON. This person, who dances often with me, immediately began scolding and reprimanding me with the familiar litany we all hear so often “You’re diabetic. You aren’t supposed to have sugar. You better put that cookie down. If you hadn’t eaten so much sugar in the first place, you wouldn’t be diabetic now.” And so on. Blah. Blah. Blah.
Being as low as I was at that moment, I didn’t respond. I ate the cookie and went out to lead the next dance. Thankfully, I was too low to be mad at the PERSON right then.
Later that evening, when we were finished dancing, I decided it was time to talk to the PERSON. I went over and asked for a few moments of her time. This is what I said. “While ago, you fussed at me for eating a cookie with sugar in it. You said that diabetics should never have sugar. I just want you to know that that is false information and it could possibly cost me my life!”
She was silent for a moment, but then said, “Well, I know that diabetics aren’t supposed to eat sugar.”
Once again, I told her that that was false information. Diabetics can eat anything in the world that anyone else can eat. To borrow a cute phrase I heard online once, I told her that there are two things that diabetics should NEVER eat. Those are: poison and cookies made with poison. She looked stunned. She then said, “Why did you say that thing about costing you your life?”
I told her that when my blood sugar drops so low, my body can’t fix it and I will pass out and possibly go into seizures and cardiac arrest. I have to give myself some sugar to prevent that from happening. My body lacks the ability to feed itself to keep from having these low blood sugars. People without diabetes would never experience such a critical issue with blood sugar.
She was curious, but still very defensive. I am with these people almost every night dancing, so it is so critical that they understand the basics of low blood sugars. If this person had insisted on my not having something sweet, as she did another time when I was really low, it truly could have very serious consequences. Thankfully, the other time this happened, there was a nurse at the dance that knew how to handle a low and took care of me while she gave a good lecture to this person. Very thankfully…..because that time I was nearly incapable of helping myself.
It scares me so much to know that so few people understand the basics of this disease and have misconceptions like this that could potentially cost us our lives by denying us sugar to treat a low. It really scares me to exercise two and a half hours every night with some of these folks!
This is the hardest thing of all about diabetes for me. I wish folks would just understand the basics.
Thanks again to Sherry for jumping in on Diabetes Blog Week and allowing me to share yet another piece she's written. And just a reminder, more posts on this topic can be found by clicking HERE.