Educating Those without Diabetes on Diligence in Keeping Blood Sugar in Control

Ginger Vieira Health Guide
  • Just Scratch Your Belly For Perfect Blood Sugars?


    During a flight to Virginia to visit my older brother, I found myself deep in conversation with the EMT sitting beside me. I asked him how often he went on calls concerning diabetics. Not to my surprise, he said, “All the time. Mostly for hypoglycemia.”


    I told him I had diabetes (sometimes I consider this a huge mistake…more often than not, to bother telling strangers you’re diabetic…but I’ll get into that later). Anyways, his immediate response was, “C’mon, it’s not that bad—you’ve just gotta take care of it.”

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    I love when people say this. It cracks me up. And there’s really no use in saying, “Well, actually, the ‘taking care of it’ part is the really hard part.” It especially surprised me coming from this man because he was an EMT. He was supposedly fairly educated on the ins and outs of the disease.


    But I’ve heard this phrase before. “Ohhh, you’ll be fine. You just need to take care of it.” As if I just have to scratch my belly a few minutes each day and *POOF* my blood sugars will be perfect! Just take care of it! That’s like telling a paraplegic, “It’s no big deal. You just have to get around without ever using your legs.”


    Of course, this isn’t the only amusing thing someone has told me after telling them I’m diabetic. Like I mentioned earlier, there a moments I wish I’ve kept it to myself. To tell or not to tell? That’s always been my question.


    At a writing conference in Vermont, I spent ten minutes calmly trying to convince an older woman (who did not have diabetes) that diabetes is actually an issue with the endocrine system and it is not a digestive disease. She told me over and over that she was positive it was a digestive disease because it involved the food that you eat.


    What do you say to these kinds of statements? What do you say when someone tells you this disease that challenges you everyday is no big deal, you just need to “take care of it” or when someone argues and argues with you about the basis of the disease in general when you’re the one who has lived with it for eight years?


    I usually grin slightly, raise one eyebrow and nod once. “Sure, uh huh.” And if they won’t leave you alone and you’d rather be in the hospital with DKA than listening to someone tell you how simple diabetes is, just tell them you need to excuse yourself in order to go “take care of it.”


Published On: April 03, 2007