It is really heartening to see more research that is being done in the beahavioural aspect of living with diabetes. Medical trials are certainly important but for those of us living with diabetes, sometimes it doesn’t hurt to ask how we are coping with things. Life in itself is complicated enough as it is without the burden of diabetes. Notice I used the word “burden”. According to Dictionary.com, a burden is something that is bourne with difficulty. Has diabetes been a burden to me? Yes. The countless almost weekly medical appointments, the frustration of roller-coaster BGLs, the multiple daily needles, not to mention it all my d-supplies have taken up two full drawers in my room, which could have been filled with other useless novel junk.
Often when I chat with my d-buddies, I hear the same stories of how health professionals are very pushy and very condescending in the way they speak to them. Personally, I’ve never had any real issues with my medical d-team. They’ve all been really fantastic in providing me with the information I need. I make it a point to understand everything that they’re doing and the meds that I’m taking (it’s my body after all!) and I will ask until I get my answers. However, all that aside, the one thing I’ve never been asked in a consult was how I was coping with everything.
Last week I had the opportunity to participate in an interview study to find out the beliefs and attitudes about type 2 diabetes: public perceptions and social experience run by Australian Centre for Behavioural Research in Diabetes. During the interview, I was asked some questions that I would have never even given a second thought. The most interesting question I was asked was how my friends and family think I developed diabetes and how they have been impacted by my diagnosis. Another thing that struck me was if there are any circumstances where I would deliberately hide the fact that I have diabetes.
My best friend says that she constantly worries about me. Not because of my complications or what not. But more from a perspective of how I handle my bad days. And it seems that I clam up and try and deal with it on my own. I never really saw it in that light as I know what to do when I have a low and how I would treat that. I don’t think I’ve ever spoken to my friends and family much about my diabetes before. Occasionally, there would be the odd question or so and I am always more than happy to answer it. But when I find myself in a bit of a rut, I often don’t know who to go to to ask for help or know necessarily the sort of help that would be best suited for my situation.
What I would like to know is how my diabetes have impacted on other people, especially when they see me testing and such. What do people think when they see other diabetics injecting or testing themselves in public? What goes through their minds? Which then brings me to deliberately hiding the fact that I have diabetes. I had a whinge once about how I was filling out a form and claimed I have no disabilities but when I mentioned that I have T2DM, they said I had to include that as a disability. I don’t see diabetes as a disability. It has, in fact, done the opposite and empowered me to become a healthier person, a better person and a better health professional. It would be interesting to come across a situation where I would deliberate shy away from telling people I have diabetes. Of course it’s not like I announce it to every person I meet but most of my friends find out only when they see me testing or injecting and they ask what I’m doing.
In the larger scheme of things, diabetes is part of me and if you can’t accept it or deal with it, and if people are going to be nasty about it, they are possibly not worth my time and effort. What’s the saying again? See the person, not the disability!