Yesterday, I went to an adolescent support group for people with type 1 diabetes that my diabetes social worker recommended that I joined. One of the topics that came up was basically how your family could literally be making you sick. You are probably wondering what I mean by that. All I am saying is sometimes your family can realllly stress you out. Research has even shown a link between elevated levels of stress and illness as well as an increase in high blood sugars. Someone in the group even noted how their A1C has gone up due to being stressed out of home.
Society seems to paint a picture of people with diabetes as being lazy and of has caused it ourselves. It also seems that everyone either knows a diabetes horror story or had an old sick family member with couldn’t use sugar (which seems to make them an expert). What many don’t realize is that the way diabetes is treated today is totally different from 15, 10 or even 5 years ago. We can eat from the same pot as the rest of the family (not just protein and vegetables) once we count our carbs and bolus for the meal. We don’t have to run a 5K daily in order to keep our sugars controlled (even though exercising is important for everyone).
I personally don’t think that our family members are deliberately trying to make us sick or stress us out but misinformation can be a very frustrating thing. We all know what a hassle the diabetes police can be especially when you feel trapped and pressured by the people who should understand you (even if no one else does) and you feel like there is no hope or way of escape. At times it seems that nothing you do is right and every area of your life seems to be under a microscope.
On the other hand, having someone there to remind you to take your insulin or simply ask, “How are you doing?” could be beneficial. Many times we get so distracted by daily events happening in our lives that a missed test or dose can and often will happen. This then begs the question, where do you draw the line? How do you gain more independence? Is there a way re-educate your loved ones without them taking offense or should you just keep it all bottled in until you are finally old enough to live on your own and away from the dreaded “diabetes police”? Will they ever see you as more than just a “diabetic” but as a young person capable of managing a very serious but very manageable disease on your own, who at times may make a few mistakes (as everyone does from time to time) but shouldn’t be criticized for those mistakes, instead applauded for the good job that they are doing and be trusted to know how to take care of themselves?
My last question is this: Is there a time to give your parents or other family members “the talk”?