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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

What not to say

Since Elise was dx in September, I've had to deal with questions and attitudes that run the gamut from naively innocent, to dangerously misinformed. So I thought I'd write to nice little post on what to say/not say and do/not do to your friend who has a child with diabetes.

My Mom's friend has a sister whose cousin knows this guy...
These people came out of the woodwork after we started telling people about Elise having D. Everybody, it seemed knew someone who is/was affected by diabetes. In the most horrific way imaginable. And these perhaps well-meaning, but horribly misguided people would tell me about their dear Aunt Trudy who had to have her leg lopped off. Or Grandpa Jed who went blind. Or some guy they met somewhere one time who knew this person who was on dialysis. Oh. Dear. Lord. This is NOT something you tell to a parent of a child with diabetes. We are well aware of the terrifying complications of D, and we certainly don't need to be reminded of it. Especially not in front of my child. I know she doesn't understand right now, but someday she will, so stuff a sock in it. Please.

So she'll die if she eats sugar, right?
You gotta love these questions. Depending on the day I'm having, I'll either take the time to properly educate the person, or I'll pop off with a snarky answer. Mostly it's the former because I do realize that people don't know what diabetes is, because they've never had to know. But I do get tired of people asking me if she'll grow out of it, or if I can control it with diet (ug, that's a whole other topic - learn the difference between Type 1 and 2, please). And don't tell me that at least now she'll eat healthier, like I've been feeding her McDonalds everyday or something. I find it a lot less frustrating if people ask me more general questions, like, "so what does that mean for Elise's future?" Or, "How do you take care of her?"

How You Doin'?
I don't mean this in the molesty Joey-from-Friends way, but seriously, you need to check in on your friend to see how she's doing. Having a child with diabetes is a VERY isolating and lonely experience. I know that I stay home by myself a lot because getting out of the house with Elise and all the stuff I have to drag with me can be overwhelming at times. It means the world to me when a friend will call up to see if she can come by and hang out.

Lend a hand
I was introduced by Elise's endo to a lady (I'll call her C) whose son (now 3) was diagnosed at 10 months. When her son came home from the hospital, two of her friends took a "Welcome to Type 1 Diabetes" course. What an awesome and amazing gift those two women gave to their friend. I'm not saying that's an option for everybody, but what a great way to let your friend know how much you care about them. Because we have no family here, Fred and I have nobody we can leave Elise with. Actually, we have spent some time with C, her husband and two boys and think they are an amazing family and see them as someone who could look after Elise for us. Unfortunately, they live almost an hour drive away. So it's not really an option. But if you are at all able to, offer to learn how to check blood sugar, or even give a shot.

I also had a friend who offered to bring by dinner the other day, which I readily accepted. Dinner time is the worst part of the day for me; I have to check her sugar, get her insulin ready, get her dinner ready, give her a shot, and feed her, all the while trying to make dinner for my husband and I. It's stressful trying to get everything done, and having that meal there and ready to go was a big deal to me (thank you Liz!).

I guess what I'm trying to say is; more than anything, be there for your friends. They might not say it, but they need you. Diabetes is a tough disease when handled alone.

4 comments:

  1. It always amazes me how many people don't know the difference between type one and type two...thinking it's something they'll outgrow, or if they changed eating habits, it'd go away, etc. But I guess without it having affected me personally, I might not have known the difference either. I can only imagine how isolating that must feel when something you live day in and day out, you can't count on family and close friends to share with you.
    Wish you were closer to me, girl!! I just map-quested you...it's a 12 hour, 3 minute drive. :)

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  2. Oh Maria, I wish we lived closer too! You seem like such a wonderful and caring friend. I'll settle for a cyber-friendship for now. And who knows, maybe I'll have the great pleasure of meeting you one day!

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  3. LOL at Maria. :) 12 hour, 3 minute drive!!! At that point they should just say 12 hours.

    Oh no, people are telling you about legs being amputated in front of your daughter???

    Hugs, Joanne. Any chance that any of your local friends will read this?

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  4. An hour's nothing compared to Canada (or even San Antonio, not that our San Antonio clan is at all useful when it comes to D, but thanks to Curdie, et al, I know I have nothing to complain about). And Rob says we're not that far apart anyway. Coming to the point...if we didn't scare you off too bad a couple of weeks ago, we'd love to have Elise over soon for the day. And when you're ready to wean her (no hurry, of course), we can make a whole weekend of it! You're in our prayers tonight...I'll call you.

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