I was talking to a DParent I’d literally just met minutes earlier while attending a friend of a friend’s get-together a few weeks back. We’d been chatting for all of about 16 minutes when DParent said something like: Well.. You don’t have any D complications... do you?? I mean you took care of yourself....You did what you were supposed to...Right?
It wasn't the first time a person (or a D parent for that matter,) had said those very same words. - But regardless of who says it, it hurts to hear if you've been in the diabetes game for decades - And the D judgement from your own, even when it's unintentional pierces your heart and puts you on the defensive.
I was simmering and I didn't want it to boil over to the surface, nor did I want to flip my Diabetes Bitch Switch.
I didn't want to fight, especially with one of 'my own."
I’d just met DParent. I couldn’t even remember her last name - And I probably would have answered her question if I hadn't felt it was dripping with diabetes judgement - And I knew that she didn't hear the judgement in her own words.
I wasn't just mad at the question. I was mad at my 14 year old self for sins committed long ago, when I blamed my sister Debbie for her diabetes complications and her alcohol issues.
I was mad at my 20 something self and her skewed view of people with type2 diabetes that was less then kind and understanding.
And I was mad at myself for what I could and or should have done in my diabetes past.
Knowing what I know now about diabetes in all dimensions, diabetes and depression and diabetes burnout verses what I knew then brings all sorts of emotions and D guilt to the table.
I took a deep breath, looked D Parent in the eye and calmly asked: Why do you think that people with D complications didn’t try their best with the tools they had at the time?
Seriously, would you think less of me as person if I told you I did have D complications than if I didn’t?
D Parent: Well.... It’s just that people with diabetes comp….
And I stopped her right there.
Me: It’s not so easy to scrutinize someone with diabetes complications when you take a look at the history of treating diabetes.
When I was growing up,(and pre - me for that matter,) in the Diabetes Dark Ages, we didn’t have technology like meters and cgms to manage our blood sugars, we tested urine.
Insulin pumps were neither precise nor compact and they weren’t covered by insurance or available to the masses. Sliding insulin scales, like glucose meters are relatively new (don’t even get me started on accuracy issues) and there were only 3 insulins on the market when I was initially diagnosed.
I reminded D Parent that the diabetes diet back in the day was incredibly restrictive and how all of the above made living with diabetes hard - And that it was still hard - even with all the flexibility that today’s D diets have.
And that sometimes that even D technology in all it’s glory makes diabetes even harder to deal with mentally.
And then I continued rambling and said that in the Diabetes Dark Ages, nobody treated the mental side of diabetes - And no one considered the mental toll diabetes took on a person with diabetes or their loved ones.
Diabetes Burnout, like diabetes itself and all its forms, was (and by those that are uneducated, still is) considered a lazy man’s disease and a copout. And that genetics and sheer dumb luck also comes into play with diabetes and complications.
We have to help one another, not judge one another for what we did or didn’t do in the past. We have to focus on what we are doing now to help our future.
And then I took a breath and D Parent looked at me with glassy eyes and apologized.
DParent told me that she’d never considered all of the above. She was less than 3 years into her son’s life with diabetes and that most of what she’d been told about D complications blamed the PWD or the parents of the PWD and that she was still learning - And that it was hard and that she was scared.
And her words allowed me to look at her with new eyes - And myself.
I gave DParent a hug and told her that even with 36 years in, I was still learning too.
And that my D passion might easily be mistaken for judgement - And I really hoped that wasn't the case, but if she felt at all judged,I was sorry and that she was doing a great job and to hang in there.
And then we smiled at one one another and then the talk turned to the snack spread and guessing the bolus for the spicy hot-wing dip, which eventually led to talk of the DOC and before we knew it an hour had gone by.
In the end we both left the party with new perspectives and new lessons tucked in our hearts and our heads - And with a new friend's digits in our smartphones~