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.