While I am no stranger to hearing the thoughtless comments people make about diabetes, it never ceases to amaze me at the callousness some individuals show people with diabetes. They are quick to judge our level of self-care, despite never having walked in our shoes.
I was at work at the shop I manage when a former community service worker stopped by. She had completed her community service hours at our shop but still liked to stop in and visit the people she met there. She said hello and started gossiping about some of the people she and one of the volunteers knew from a job where they both had worked.
One person she told her about had diabetes and, very sadly, had passed away. When the volunteer looked concerned about the news she quickly (and loudly), spoke about how he “was terrible and didn’t take care of it”, as if that made it all okay. I have had Type 1 diabetes for 22 years and the volunteer she was talking to has Type 2 diabetes. We were both quiet, and shocked. She continued talking about him and I had to walk away. I was angry. Is nothing off limits? I don’t understand why people feel it is okay to bash us, even in death, because they think they know how hard we fought, or didn’t fight. Every death that stems from this insidious illness should be mourned, not dismissed.
Diabetes is so hard. It is every single day, without breaks. How does anyone have the right to accuse us of not taking care of our diabetes unless they are with us through it all? Had she seen him eat a treat at work and decided he wasn’t allowed? Had she been at his doctor appointments and at the countless pharmacy pickups? Had she comforted him through high blood sugars or delivered life-saving glucose to him during a dangerous low blood sugar? No. She had no idea what having diabetes takes.
The woman left and we closed up shop. As I drove the volunteer home we talked about the incident. I ranted about how awful it was for the woman to talk that way about someone when she clearly had no business judging. We were both upset at her comments because we try so hard and people still judge, people decide they can just dismiss a death with a thoughtless comment. There is very little compassion for people with diabetes. I would like to educate these people about our illness, but it is truly tiring to constantly educate people in the general population. When will the hurtful comments end?