While talking about my diabetes is never an off the table topic with friends, there are ways of going about it without awkwardness. There are times where I do feel conscious about my diabetes. Particularly when I’m out and don’t want the focus to be on my pancreas but me as a person. Diabetes is only a little part of me, I’m sure my jokes, ability to laugh at anything and love for cats are the real stars of the show.
When people do ask about my pump, CGM or BGL tester, I’m generally more than happy to answer them. But please be mindful and respectful of the way you ask something so personal as their health condition. Here’s a short Do’s and Don’ts list based from my experience.
Do ask if we’re okay or willing or happy to talk about my diabetes. If you try to get me to explain diabetes while I’m hangry and testing my BGLs just before digging into a meal, you won’t get a very nice response.
Don’t start the conversation by commenting “so you’ve had too many lollies as a child eh?”. Very not cool. No sympathy if you get something thrown at you in response.
Do take time to listen if you ask a question. Nothing more annoying and disrespectful than having someone go “SO ANYWAY…” and change the subject while you’re explaining something because you’ve asked a question. Just plain rude.
Don’t freak out and make comments like “I hate needles/blood, I could never do that”. You would if you had to. You learn to deal with it. If you ask for us to show you how we check our blood sugars, don’t turn away in disgust and make retching noises when blood appears.
Do respect our personal space and keep judgy comments to yourself. I don’t appreciate having someone look over my shoulder while I test my BGLs and comment on “whether that’s a good or bad number” or draw a sharp inhale when double digits appear.
Don’t grab or play with our insulin pumps or CGM sensor without consent. Basic manners here guys! If you knew how much they cost you wouldn’t be doing that anyway. Sure point at it and ask but please no touchy feely. I hope this never happens to me again.
Do thank us for sharing information and doing a little show and tell. It’s nice to be respectful.
Don’t offer medical advice or diet remedies to cure our diabetes. You think living with diabetes is something we consciously want? Puh-lease.
Do remember that, like you, we have a choice in everything we do. Avoid comments like “should you be eating that”, “so you’re stuck with that forever” or “I don’t see why you need that”. Wearing an insulin pump and CGM are things I choose to do. Everyone manages their diabetes differently, just like everyone have different preferences for food. If you want to learn why I choose to use certain devices, I’m more than happy to discuss it but I don’t need to justify my actions to you.
2 thoughts on “Do’s and Don’ts of talking to a PWD”
Very interesting topic. Thank you for sharing?
I do have one question if you don’t mind explaining it. How does your Insulin Pump work?
Hey, thanks for dropping by!
My insulin pump is continuously dripping fast acting insulin into me in a manner that would reflect what my pancreas would normally do. Together with my healthcare team, we decide what rates the insulin should be flowing at. The basal rate is one that runs in the background all day and each time I have carbohydrates, I calculate how many grams it is, enter it into my pump and it will calculate how much insulin I would need to cover it.
http://www.diabetesaustralia.com.au/insulin also has a bit more information there 🙂