November is national diabetes awareness month (#NDAM) a time when many people share more than usual about life with diabetes, statistics, examples of struggles, pictures, articles, and so on.
Some years I more actively participate than others. There's no rule to this advocacy campaign other than for you to do what feels right for you, even if that means not participating!
Living with diabetes is hard on many levels. There's managing food and medication. There's managing doctor appointments, supply orders, medication orders. To me, one of the hardest and most frustrating parts of it is dealing with other people.
There's the seemingly helpful auntie who has made a "sugar free" dessert for the holidays, but she doesn't understand how carbohydrates plays into it. There's the person who when you say your blood sugar is low suggests you take insulin. Or when your blood sugar is high to have some juice. Or, when another person with diabetes tells you that you are harming yourself from eating something they deem bad. This last one frustrates me way more than the other examples. I could go on and on, but you get the gist.
Here's the thing. Only people living with diabetes fully understand what it's really like to have it. We try our best to explain and show examples and explain some more, which is fabulous. Keep it up! But remember, only a person living with diabetes will fully understand what it's like to have it. It's frustrating, but maybe setting our expectations accordingly might help in the long run.
My request for this month, and always, is to take a step back and realize that while we wish everyone we come in contact with fully understands the ins and outs of diabetes, they probably don't. So let's try and cut them some slack when they try to be helpful but it's wrong -- they ARE trying. Let's give the restaurant server/barista/ etc the benefit of the doubt when you say you have diabetes and they suggest a food you wouldn't eat, that they don't know what you know.
And last but not least, please lets stop telling people who chose to manage their diabetes (or life) differently is causing them harm. This includes telling people they are harming themselves by eating something you've chosen to cut out (carbs, meat, diet coke). You do your diabetes (life) your way, I do it my way.