Monday, June 7, 2010

The Top D-Cop

We People With Diabetes often voice our frustrations with Diabetes Police, who are those typically well-meaning and nice people who think they're the resident experts on everything related to diabetes.

As with all D-Police Force members, dealing with these individuals one-on-one or in mass can be frustrating and require diplomacy, usually in the form of biting your tongue and instead responding with education or information about whatever the topic might be. Hopefully, it sinks in. But sometimes that isn't the case. That response can be even more tricky when those people are family members or close friends, and it requires a bit more delicacy than strangers or even more casual acquaintances.

In my own D-Life during the past decade, the person who I've come to label as my Chief of D-Police is none other than my mother-in-law. A pleasant woman, she is herself a Type 2 diabetic - which means that her view of the D-World is gospel. I do my best to maintain composure, balancing my roles as a Type 1 since the age of 5 with that of my more important roles as husband and son-in-law. It can be interesting, at times, and Suzi and I usually have some laughs about it after the fact.

Take the most recent three-day Memorial Day Weekend when the in-laws came into town. We enjoyed a great weekend visit that was very much fun. However, I had a Low at one point that took me out of commission for the entire Sunday afternoon and resulted in the mother-in-law's colorful description of my Low as my "Going Stupid" (as recounted in Friday's post, A.K.A Low Blood Sugars).

On the final morning of the visit, we all had breakfast together and were saying our goodbyes in a hotel hallway. At one point, the D-Police Chief emerged and I was instructed to make sure to eat my scheduled meals and snacks in order to prevent Lows. I smiled and nodded, responding kindly and assuredly. Then came the kicker:

D-Police Chief: "We all have our tricks, and you need to find what works for you."

Me: "My bag of tricks is always growing, and after 26 years I keep finding new ones."

D-Police Chief: "Well, you should be better at this by now. Better than I am at it."

The smile faded from my face momentarily. I cleared my throat, felt the blood racing to my face. A quick moment of hesitation prevented words from erupting, and instead of speaking I began to focus on the speck on the wall. I noticed a cleaning cart down the hall, and began pondering how many towels and cleaning containers were stocked on board. I wondered how many steps it would take to get to the ice machine half-way down, and to the front desk, and pool area... My attention turned back to the person in front of me, and though words were still being voiced, I didn't hear what they were.

Another smile, and nod, and then my response as I turned to leave, "Yep. We'll do our best." All with a smile.

Now, for the rant....

What bothers me most is that there's no recognition that Type 1 is something that she just doesn't know anything about. She lumps Type 1 and Type 2 together - a "diabetes is diabetes" mentality that can be just as much true as it is inaccurate. There are different types of this disease, and that translates to the fact that what one person's experience may not be how another variety of diabetic experiences or handles the same situation.  That can be said when comparing Type 1s, because as we know: Your Diabetes May Vary.

I've explained and tried to be educational often through the years, to the point where I know now that there's little reason to waste my breath in trying when a new issue comes up. It's like trying to plug a sink drain hole with tissue, when you know that it'll be washed away as soon as you turn on the water - you save the tissue.
You hope that past educational expreiences will build a foundation, that what you've invested in effort will be put to use and help change how that person responds or interacts with us People With Diabetes. It's like a highway accident, where you see coverage and give them all the traffic maps and alternate routes to avoid the crash but they still drive directly into it and get caught in the jam.

As if Lows aren't bad enough for those of us who experience them first-hand, we then have to endure the D-Police recaps of what happened and hear their views on what they believe could have been differently. All while telling us we're wrong and not taking care of ourselves.

So, all we are left with in response is a sad smile, a happy front that doesn't show the tear of disappointment streaming down your face. But, we learn to live with it and sadly expect it.

What can we do? Other than keep our composure, try to educate and inform when the chance is available, and keep a sense of humor when there is no hope of converting the D-Police from their best-intentions created cause.

The Mayo Clinic's D-Living Blog had a column in mid-May from two registered nurses dubbed, "Dealing with the diabetes 'police'" and it offered some worthwhile advice to check out on this topic. Many other D-Bloggers have written about this topic through the years, including the great NinjaBetic who wrote a column for D-Life a couple years back. Kerri has also created a great Cartoon Vlog about the D-Police over at Six Until Me, too. But in the end, sometimes we must just watch our behavior while the D-Police are watching - like keeping our speeds in check toward the end of the month or when police are out in mass. We mind our D-Management and keep it in even greater check just to avoid the constant hassle that sometimes just isn't worth the effort.

7 comments:

Samantha said...

You seem to be much better at dealing with the d-police than I am! Unfortunately for me, my partner began turning into one of the dreaded d-police and GOD I HATE IT WHEN HE DOES THAT! I'm learning to bite my tongue and try and be nice about it with the d-police in general but sometimes, jeez. Thankfully my OH is getting more and more used to the d and what it entails so the policing is becoming less and less.

My gran is the worst at it though. She's T2 and on an insulin pump (don't even get me started on that...), and very poorly controlled. Yet she loves telling me not to eat things and makes out I'm putting it on if my sugars go low...while she sits there and stuffs her face with chocolate raisens and doesn't bolus for it

jdhaksjdksaljdlsakjdlkasjdsa

Take your frustration out on a BG meter, you know you want to :D

Brenda W said...

That is so frustrating. Lows happen. That's one of the things we have to deal with!

I really have no idea what you are supposed to do, as I struggle with this myself. I am usually too polite to do more than just say "Ok" with a smile...then I hide in the bathroom and cry. judgments hurt, especially when we try so hard!

I think because she is your mother in law it puts another spin on it, since you don't want to say anything that would damage the relationship and put strain on your marriage. So here is a big ole hug to make up for my lack of advice!!

((((((((((((((((((hugs)))))))))))))

Renata Porter said...

Sounds like you need one of my shirts. Maybe the subtelty will do the trick. ;)

I have to say while I am proud that you were able to control yourself, it also seems time for an education. You can figure out the balance even if it's to say "what you have is no where near what I have and I would appreciate it if you either would 1. educate yourself or 2. mind your business." Then again, that rudeness might not go over well with the missus. How comfy is your couch and can you cook?
The DiabeticDuo

Scott Strange said...

hehe, I've run the gambit of just smiling to "that upsets me" to "why are you still talking?"

you done good, young man!

Nyx said...

Not had to deal with it much, save from my mom who keeps comparing what I can eat vs what she could eat as a T2 ... annoying ... I keep telling her I'm not her and that what she could eat vs what I can eat are two different things (but she keeps saying it every time I have more or less of X food that she use to have Y amount of).

Cara said...

It's so hard to explain to people that sometimes diabetes is just unpredictable. Sometimes I joke the moon is in the wrong house. That's why I love the phrase Your Diabetes May Vary. Because I know mine varies even for myself day to day.
I'm sure it's a pain to have to deal with it from family too. :/

Barbara H said...

I have given up on diplomacy with these double tongued patrolers. Often times they are quick to judge and then quick to condemn! "You cant eat that" Most recently I was with one and they snarl and ask "Why dont you take better care of yourself." As soon as they said that they condemned me for taking my insulin in a public place when I was out for a meal. "Go to the bathroom and do that" I said "you go to the bathreem and eat". Another one gripes "I am too fat" I was filling them in abot having a get together in the fall to celebrate my consostent working out and weightloss and she said "dont pig out" I have not spoken to either since and one was my mother.