There’s a lot of confusion out there about type 1 diabetes, so it’s not unusual to come across people who are misinformed, and it can be frustrating. Some of those people may have had gestational diabetes or an aunt with type 2 diabetes, both of which are very different from James’ type 1. Have you ever met someone like that? Then you’ll relate to the following encounter!
I recently met another local mom who is awesome in loads of ways -- super organized and really great with kids. But…she’s doesn’t exactly have the facts straight about diabetes.
Here’s how our recent interaction went. The activity we were attending with our children involved making a snack together. I had to run an errand and would return momentarily. I took a moment to explain to her that James needed to have insulin for any snack he would eat, except maybe something like cheese or celery. She said, “Oh right, it’s because of the sugar.” I took a moment right there to explain to her that actually it isn’t the sugar -- it’s the carbs. She took it well.
When I returned they were getting ready to sample their snacks, which included some chocolate candies. Because James hates chocolate with a passion (I know, crazy), he was deftly avoiding taking any chocolate while serving himself. The other mom gave me a wink and said, “Looks like he’s well trained.” I recognize that she was being complimentary, but I just didn’t want to allow a misconception to continue. James doesn’t have to avoid chocolate because of diabetes -- he does it because he’s not a fan of how it tastes. I said, “Oh, actually he just hates chocolate!”
I suppose I should be proud of myself for not going into a long speech on how, really, the candies weren’t even the aspect of the snack most likely to affect his blood sugar (for James, the pretzels were). But I found myself not knowing quite how to react.
What was most useful was to respond with real information and give her the benefit of the doubt. Maybe she will learn more facts about diabetes and will turn out to be a new friend and a good ally in our effort to take care of James at his various activities.
It also made me think about myself. While I can legitimately claim to be an expert at James’ day-to-day diabetes care, there are SO many other areas in life of which I am totally ignorant. Do I come off as arrogant or all-knowing when friends or family are trying to talk to me about their lives? I hope not! I hope I can take friendly correction well (as this mom sincerely seemed to do!), stay humble and be a good listener.
About the author: My name is Jennifer, and I live in Southern California with my husband, Craig, and our three boys. Our oldest son James has been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. I’m thankful for this opportunity -- along with my sister-in-law Kim and her daughter Kaitlyn, who also has type 1 diabetes -- to share our struggles and triumphs with our friends in the diabetes community.
Disclaimer: The experiences and suggestions recounted in these articles are not intended as medical advice, and they are not necessarily the "typical" experiences of families with a child who has type 1 diabetes. These situations are unique to the families depicted. Families should check with their healthcare professionals regarding the treatment of type 1 diabetes and the frequency of blood glucose monitoring. Jen and Kim are real moms of kids with type 1 diabetes and have been compensated for their contributions to this site.
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