There was a piece in the Huff Post the other day about things to not ask someone living with a chronic health condition – specifically ‘Have you tried….’
You get the idea:
Have you tried not eating after 6pm to help your blood sugars?
Have you tried to quit sugar? Completely?
Have you tried the drug they were talking about on A Current Affair the other night?
Have you tried giving up coffee? (While I don’t advocate violence, it is perfectly acceptable to respond to the fool asking this question with a sharp slap to the back of the head.)
Sometimes the ‘have you tried’ suggestions are just plain ridiculous. In last week’s OzDOC tweet chat, moderator Ms Kim came up with this beauty, asking for us to tweet how we would respond.
My take on comments like this is to roll my eyes and try to change the subject. I don’t believe there is any malice in someone making these suggestions; they really are trying to help. They want to help.
It’s what it represents that pisses me off a little. My diabetes management is not for up public tender. I manage it in a way that I see fit. I will ask if I need help. Actually, I’m not great at asking if I need help, but that’s not the point.
It is as though having a chronic health condition is a ticket for everyone to offer their ideas and suggestions. I’m fairly certain I’ve never asked people to workshop my diabetes management and I certainly haven’t sought to crowd source ideas for helping me out. And yet, it feels like it’s a public free-for-all at times!
I am sure that this is the same for people living with conditions other than diabetes. But with diabetes, perhaps because there is the link with food, and food is in the public domain all the time that people think they can weigh in. It doesn’t help that there are twits like the frequently-mentioned-in-this-blog-because-she-infuriates-me-so-much-and-is-a-dangerous-tool, Sarah Wilson, and the equally-derided Pete Evans who have mega-huge megaphones that reach a lot of people and feel that their pseudo-science programs are a good way to treat chronic health conditions. (Spoiler alert – they are not.)
For some people, the most difficult thing about living with diabetes, is the way that the public perceives the condition. While I seem to not get too hot under the collar about the public’s perception, I do understand how tiring some people get at the constant comments about diabetes, the misconceptions and how others want to get involved.
Diabetes seems to be rather unique in this sense. That public ownership of a condition that is a significant public health burden is certainly annoying at times. It’s similar to people commenting on the size of a pregnant woman’s belly (or overall pregnant body). Because it’s a bit ‘out there’ some think it’s okay to offer comment or offer suggestions. When I was pregnant, I was standing at the counter of a juice bar at the Queen Victoria Market and a man I am quite certain I’ve never met before, put his hand on my belly and told me that I was ‘a good size.’ I asked him to remove his hand and suggested that he mind his own business. Or at least buy me my pineapple juice if he wanted to get involved.
Finding ways to deflect comments without appearing ungrateful or rude can be tough. I know people want to help. But there is no curing diabetes and there is no magic potion that is going to make it better. It is sometimes a little insulting when people suggest things – especially things that are clearly straight off the snake oil shelf. Most who know me should realise that I am pretty linked in with what’s going on in the diabetes world. Do they really think that I could have missed that cure?
I (hope I) have a long life ahead of me and as it stands, that life is going to be shared with type 1 diabetes
(well, at least for the next five years). I accept this and know that it is my lot in life. It would certainly be easier if people just didn’t think that it was public property and they had a free pass to comment.
I really hope I don’t sound ungrateful. Or rude…
By the way, this is how I responded to the OzDOC zinger from last week:
Because it’s so true. There ain’t no curing stupid!
Okay folks, it’s December. And my treat to you for the next couple of weeks is to provide you with fabulous Holiday songs. (I say Holiday not because I don’t want to say Christmas, but because they may not all be Christmas Carols.) Hold on – you’re in for a ride. Our Holiday album collection is certainly eclectic!
So, today, I’m starting with one of my all-time favourite musicians, John Pizzarelli singing Let it Snow.