Wil Dubois

Hey, All -- if you've got questions about navigating life with diabetes, then you've come to the right place! That would be our weekly diabetes advice column, Ask D'Mine, hosted by veteran type 1 and diabetes author Wil Dubois in New Mexico.

This week, Wil puts his foot down about ignorant comments on diabetes from overseas. Apparently, this exasperating phenomenon exists all across the world...

 

{Got your own questions? Email us at AskDMine@diabetesmine.com}

 

 

Shammy, LADA type 1 from the Philippines, writes: I’m afraid you already have answered the same question over and over, but I’m facing a dilemma all PWDs are: How would you explain to someone, a non-PWD and not a Type 1 in particular, that drinking water soaked with okra overnight wouldn’t cure us, and neither would making other oddly named grass (or herbs as they call it) tea nor eating a certain superfood?

This is so tiring because even my parents wouldn’t even try to understand that what I need is to inject myself with insulin every day for the rest of my life. If I try to explain to them, they’re just going to say to my face that “I'm not the only person in the world who has it,” and I would just feel bad. Because sadly, I know they are referring to Type 2s who may (or may not) benefit from trying those things. They always force me to eat and drink, then “educate” me that I don’t have to rely on my D-kit, saying things would’ve been far better if I just try. I did try, but I really can’t. Aside from not helping at all as I have observed, (these teas) taste bad -- really bad. Spare some tips and thoughts? I’m willing to memorize a phrase or a paragraph to keep their mouths shut and minds more open. Thanks!

 

Wil@Ask D’Mine answers: Hi Shammy, I’m sorry to hear you’re having trouble with well-intended morons. Sadly, as you say, this is a common problem. I’ll help you craft an elevator speech for them in a moment, but first I want to deal with the more serious issue of your parents’ lack of D-knowledge. I suspect this is also a common problem, at least for those of us who got type 1 as adults.

Parents of PWDs who get type 1 as children had the “good luck” to learn a lot about type 1 in a forced fashion: They were thrown into the diabetes melting pot with their children as a family unit and they all learned together. On the other hand, those of us diagnosed as adults had to learn to navigate this twisted highway on our own, away from the home and hearth of our folks. Our parents didn’t have the same opportunity to learn with us as we mastered our diabetes.

But, the way I see it you have two choices with your parents. You can insist that they either step up to the plate and learn about what you have, or that they stop giving advice. You need to choose which you want, and you need to keep your choice enforced. Getting out of a conversation

If you decide you want them to step up, I suggest you say something like: “Yes, I know I’m not the only person in the world who has this, but I’m the only person in this family who does, and I really need your help and support." Then make your demand: They need to start coming to your doctor and educator appointments with you.

If they refuse, or if you choose to go the other route, when they start to give advice just hold up your hand and say: “My diabetes, not yours. I’m in charge. Thank you, now let’s change the subject.”

Of course, it wouldn’t hurt to give your parents one of the Behavioral Diabetes Institute’s Diabetes Etiquette Cards. It also comes in Spanish, which I'm guessing might be a better choice for your folks, given where you live?

Now, on to the well-intended morons who are pushing unsolicited D-cures on you (some of which, as you say, may have some positive effect on type 2s). I’m not being flippant when I call these people well-intended morons. People who offer us unsolicited advice on “curing” our diabetes really do mean well, they just don’t have all the facts. And while it’s tempting to load up the snark cannons and fire a broadside at them, we really shouldn’t. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m becoming increasingly alarmed about the declining lack of civility in civilization.

Plus, if you step back and take the time to think about it, giving medical advice to a complete stranger, or to someone you barely know, is a tremendous act of courage. It should be rewarded with, at a minimum, respect. And perhaps more. Instead of being exasperated, we can choose to view this as an opportunity to educate.

Maybe.

When we have the energy.

I tell you what. I’m going to give you two tools today. One is an elevator education speech to keep people’s mouths shut and minds open—that you can deploy when you have the mental, physical, and spiritual energy to take on the world. But I also want to give you a reserve option—a polite response to use when you don’t have the energy to take on the world.

First, try this on for size: “Why thank you so much for that advice. You know, I’ve heard that (insert miracle cure here) helps some people with type 2 diabetes, but I have the other kind of diabetes. It’s called type 1 diabetes, and it’s an autoimmune condition in which the body destroys the cells in the pancreas that make insulin. Doctors, scientists, and shamans all over the world have tried just about everything imaginable to help people like me, but injecting insulin is the only thing that works, and alternative therapies can actually make us very sick or even kill us. So for my health, and for my family, I need to stick with what I know works. But thank you again for your concern and advice, I really appreciate it (insert fake smile here).”

Feel free to modify that to your style of talking. You could expand on what type 1 is, but I suspect if you do, you’ll see the person’s eyes glaze over. So I think a tidbit that might get absorbed trumps an excellent essay that won’t be heard.

Public education isn’t a banquet. It happens one grain of rice at a time.

When you don’t have the energy to be the fountain of public education, I suggest the following response: “Thank you so much, that is so kind of you to suggest. You know, I tried that back when I was first diagnosed and it didn’t work for me then, but maybe I could try it again some time soon.”

And that’s all you need to say. You’ve been kind and non-confrontational, but you’ve effectively (and simply) ended the conversation.

 

This is not a medical advice column. We are PWDs freely and openly sharing the wisdom of our collected experiences — our been-there-done-that knowledge from the trenches. But we are not MDs, RNs, NPs, PAs, CDEs, or partridges in pear trees. Bottom line: we are only a small part of your total prescription. You still need the professional advice, treatment, and care of a licensed medical professional.
Disclaimer: Content created by the Diabetes Mine team. For more details click here.

Disclaimer

This content is created for Diabetes Mine, a consumer health blog focused on the diabetes community. The content is not medically reviewed and doesn't adhere to Healthline's editorial guidelines. For more information about Healthline's partnership with Diabetes Mine, please click here.