Living with diabetes blog

Dealing with the diabetes 'police'

By Nancy Klobassa Davidson, R.N. and Peggy Moreland, R.N., C.D.E. February 15, 2012

We were at a family gathering, having ice cream for dessert, when "Uncle" pointed his finger at my son, who has type 1 diabetes, and said, "You can't have that!"

My son sat in stunned silence, so I spoke up and said that he has good control of his diabetes and can have sweets as long as he gives himself insulin to cover the carbs.

Friends and family usually have good intentions. Uncle had a good friend die from diabetes and was a little emotional. Keep in mind that diabetes affects the whole family, not just the person with the disease.

Other family members often don't understand why you get frustrated with diabetes management. Or, they don't see the need to change their own lifestyle. Do you ever find that some people think that diabetes shouldn't be all that hard to handle, and that you just need to make more of an effort?

So what can you do to deal with the diabetes police?

  • When you encounter an outburst such as my son received, use it as an opportunity to educate others about diabetes management. Explain that you are allowed to eat a certain number of carbs, including simple sugars.
  • Ask not to be singled out. Help them to see that you need their encouragement and support. Give them some examples of how they can help.
  • Examine your behavior. Your natural reaction to pushy, nagging family and friends is to dig in and resist their attempts. Be honest with yourself. Your family is concerned about your health because they're concerned about you. No one manages their diabetes 100 percent perfect. There are days when you eat things you shouldn't or feel like skipping testing your blood sugar. Letting diabetes management slide and seeing your blood sugar levels skyrocket is another matter. You can minimize their concerns by doing your best to stay on track.
  • Family members, ask how you can help. Most of all, listen and acknowledge that you don't understand the difficulties of diabetes management, but would like to offer support.

As a mother of two sons with type 1 diabetes, I've resisted the urge to nag. However, when one of my sons expressed to me his frustrations with 24/7 diabetes management and took a break from it, I expressed my concern. I acknowledged his feelings and offered support. I told him I didn't want to nag, but wanted him to know I'm there if he needs support. He was appreciative and even gave me permission to call and "hassle" him once in awhile.


Feb. 15, 2012