Last night Ashley led an outstanding and insightful OzDOC chat about being the support person to someone with diabetes. Being a very independent person with diabetes, I feel it’s a topic that I often overlook.
There are days where diabetes definitely has a negative impact on those around me. There are days when I’m really moody and close myself off from the conversation. I want nothing more than to just be alone. It can be frustrating watching my family talk so loudly at the dinner table, without a care in the world. When I’m having a normal person’s bad day, I still have to get through it and manage my diabetes on top of it. That makes a bad day even worse.
I often feel like diabetes is a big accommodation on me. Eating well, getting my insulin doses right, maintaining healthy blood sugar levels, minimising hypos, avoiding complications and blah blah blah. I feel like I’m the only one who will have to deal with future consequences of my condition. I’m fiercely independent when it comes to managing my diabetes. Nobody knows it better than I do. Besides, I wouldn’t want it any other way.
I guess one of the downsides is that somewhere along the way, I overlook the people around me who do care and do have to accommodate diabetes. The people who do hear the 1am alarms from down the hall. The people who do hear the clicks of a lancet, and the footsteps of an early morning hypo dash. The people who are concerned for my well being, but might not feel comfortable asking because I’ve shut them out. The people who have helped me out enormously with the costs of managing a very expensive condition.
If I were a support person to someone with diabetes, I would definitely want to respect that it’s their diabetes and their rules. I would let them know that I’m there to support them, in any capacity of their choosing. As a person with diabetes, I would want to tell my 17 year old self to learn to lean on the people around him. They might not understand, but I know they do genuinely care. Sometimes simply having them there to support me is enough.
I don’t know if I’ve got it all worked out. I definitely don’t apologise or explain my out of character behaviour after a bad day. I often feel like I need to…I definitely need to stop feeling so guilty for drinking juice in the movie theatre when the people I’m with haven’t brought anything from the candy bar. Just tell them you’re low, for heaven’s sake!
I definitely feel that diabetes has made me a healthier and wiser person, which has definitely had a flow on effect to the rest of my family. We do talk about diabetes, food choices and stories that pop up on the News. Mum often cuts out stories from the newspaper and leaves them on my desk for me to read.
I definitely feel like a more confident person who knows what he wants. When I’m talking to others, I find myself speaking in a more “matter of fact” manner, rather than making a point of introducing the fact that I have diabetes to someone new.
I definitely feel that I know what I want from my support people, and they know how to best support me – even if their role might seem relatively minimal.