There here, they’re there, they’re everywhere! It’s the Diabetes Police—your family, friends and others who criticize your diabetes behaviors. They disapprove of your food choices, point out your weight gain, accuse you of skipping your medication and nag you to exercise more. These well-meaning individuals care about you, but they make life with diabetes more difficult and can create tension in a relationship. Here are some examples of ways that the Diabetes Police operate in our lives:
Jeff’s blood sugar results aren’t perfect, but he and his doctor are pleased: His A1C is 6.5 percent. His wife, Nancy, always asks about his glucose results. If they aren’t to her liking, she launches into a lecture about Jeff’s overeating and poor food choices. To avoid her tirades, Jeff now lies to Nancy. He says that his glucose level is perfect, regardless of what the home monitor says. Jeff and Nancy used to approach his diabetes as a team, but now they seem to be on opposite sides.
Diabetes isn’t easy. Some people control it more effectively than others, but everyone who has it must stay vigilant. Nagging, accusing and blaming only complicate matters. If you have a loved one in your life, like Nancy, who has negative things to say about your diabetes care efforts, try some of these suggestions:
Share the facts. Invite your loved one to go with you to a diabetes class or a session with a diabetes educator, or read and discuss a book about diabetes together. Learn the real facts about this disease.
Be open and honest. Be open about your discomfort. Lying to your loved ones about your condition is not helpful.
Make some of your behaviors public. Are you being criticized for ignoring certain diabetes self-care tasks? Then do them in the open. Test your blood in front of those who say that you forget to test. Ask the person to take a walk or exercise with you. They will see that you take your diabetes seriously and start to appreciate your effort.
Re-channel their efforts. If loved ones comment on your poor food choices, ask them to help you fill the pantry with healthier choices. Invite them to be part of the solution.
Look in the mirror. Some of the comments made by the Diabetes Police may be accurate. Are you honestly doing all you should do to manage your condition? If so, it may be time to make some changes.
Meet with a counselor. Some relationship issues can’t be remedied with a quick fix. If the tension continues between you and the one you love, make an appointment with a mental health professional to help you put an end to the battle.
Don’t allow the Diabetes Police to make your self-care efforts more difficult. Supportive relationships can help make living with diabetes easier. Communicate your discomfort and share your needs. You don’t have to wave the white flag, but you can call for a truce.