Etiquette 101

For nearly 24 years I have listened to the lectures, taken in the chastising, and accepted the berating comments from family, friends, and even complete strangers with regards to my diabetes. (Okay maybe that was a a lie; I’ve kind of rebelled against those comments my whole life)

See, many people think they know my disease, like really know it, and are akin to giving advice on it, or judging me for supposedly not following the “proper” diabetes code, or outright lecturing me for eating a scoop (be it a large scoop) of Hagen Daz or a chunk of chocolate. Because, you know, obviously they know how to manage my diabetes so much better than me right. Note the sarcasm.

Well folks, I am here today to shine some light on what I think of your advice. I was recently introduced to the Etiquette Lessons for Non-Diabetics, compiled by the Behavioral Diabetes Institute. One word: Brilliant. And here I am sharing some of my favouriets with you … with a few of my own added too 😀

(Warning: I am not to be held accountable for hurt feelings, out of joint noses, or self-induced slaps upside the head.)

Etiquette Lessons for Non-Diabetics:

DON’T offer unsolicited advice about my eating or other aspects of diabetes: You may mean well, but giving advice about someone’s personal habits, especially when it is not requested, really isn’t very nice (you don’t hear me questioning your Big Mac habit do you) and FYI many of the old-time beliefs about diabetes, like sugar is the devil, are out of date or just plain wrong.

DON’T tell me horror stories about your grandma or others you know with diabetes: This disease is freaking scary enough and stories like these are not reassuring! I mean seriously, would you like me to reel off all the ways you could die, or how likely it is you’ll go blind, or get gangrene? Really? News flash folks, I’m probably a helluva lot healthier than most, even with this bloody disease!

DON’T look so horrified when I check my blood sugars or give myself an injection: Take it from a girl who was bullied for doing such things, and who has since learned the art of revenge. If I see horror in your face, it just makes me want to shove it in front of you that much more. Just saying…

DON’T offer thoughtless reassurances: When you first learn about my diabetes, you may want to reassure me by saying things like, “Least you don’t have cancer.” And I may want to reassure you by slugging you in the nose. Diabetes, like cancer, IS a big freaking deal.

DON’T peek at or comment on my BG numbers: You don’t see me peeking over your shoulder when you’re on the scale, so why are you peeking over mine? If I want to tell you, I’ll tell you. If I’m dealing with erratic blood sugars, your unsolicited comments could add to the disappointment frustration and anger I already feel … and may very well cause me to jab the lancet right into your eye. You’ve been warned.

DON’T automatically assume my blood sugars are low if I’m cranky: Just because I have diabetes does NOT mean I don’t get cranky. So if I’m a little quiet, or snappish, or all out bitchy, just leave me alone already. Don’t you expect the same?

DON’T question my abilities: Diabetes sucks for sure, life would be a heck of a lot easier without it, but it is NOT the end of my world. I am not a vegetable, so bloody well stop treating me like one. I can run marathons, I can cycle 80 plus kilometres, I can push the limits on the Grouse Grind, I do not use it as an excuse (unless say it’s for something like bungee jumping or skydiving, then hell yeah it’s an excuse) and neither should you.

DO realize and appreciate that diabetes is hard work: Diabetes management is a full-time job that I didn’t apply for, didn’t want and can’t quit. It involves thinking about what, when and how much I eat, while also factoring in exercise, medication, stress, blood sugar monitoring, and so much more – each and every day. AND I DON’T GET PAID!

Any lessons you’d like to share?

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6 responses to “Etiquette 101

  1. Peter Schofield

    Well said Katie! Or should I say Miss Manners 🙂
    What an awesome way to explain what you go through every day, hats off to you!

  2. WOW Katie.. this is absolutely perfect just the way it is. Makes me want to re-post it at some point. I couldn’t possibly add to that!
    you are my hero!
    The “cranky” one? omg, so many times “it must be her blood sugar”. We’re STILL human!! argh.

  3. I especially love the bit about the lancet in the eye! Made me appreciate even more what you deal with every day, and the grace, style, determination and kick-ass-ness in which you do it! xoxo

  4. Well said Katie! Maybe you should talk a bit about how expensive it is to have Diabetes and how the government doesn’t care about the expenses…..

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