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Did You Really Just Say That?

I know in my heart, people, for the most part, mean well. I have to believe that otherwise I may say something in response I’ll regret. The thoughtless, short sighted, or laughable comments that come out wrong are sometimes said to us. I see all these comments as an opportunity to teach, and for others to learn. I could stay in the negative or the anger but I refuse to. If I’m going to get angry, it will be at the disease. But admittedly sometimes comments hurt or catch us off guard. We have to get past that. We can teach so others can learn. So I’ll begin with some of my favorites (just a bit of sarcasm. Sorry).

“You can’t eat that”

(Or other ‘plate watcher’ comments. Oh, the judgement people inflict on us). ‘Yes I can eat that. Type 2 diabetes requires I keep track of the carbs I eat. My body can only handle so many carbs at once. I plan ahead so I can eat that.’

“You’re a type 2 diabetic? You’re slim…”

I’ve had this comment made to me several times over and although I don’t have to justify it I usually do. ‘I had gestational diabetes during my last pregnancy. I was at higher risk for true diabetes down the line. Now I have type 2 just like the research indicates.1

“People with type 2 diabetes have it because they are overweight/obese/lazy”

Here is where I have to remind myself that ignorance is best met with evidence, with teaching, modeling compassion. ‘I understand that’s common thinking. Those comments can be really hurtful. I know you would never intentionally want to hurt someone. You could better help those with diabetes by trying to understand their reality, by lending your support. I know you like to help and support people.’ This usually stops them in their tracks. What would be their response to that…yes I wanted to hurt you with my comment? Not likely. They’d look pretty insensitive and they know it. It’s a gentle way of teaching them that words hurt.

“My diabetes is worse than yours”

Oh my good grief! No. It’s different. You have no idea what I deal with daily, any more than I know what your reality is. I never want to respond with disrespect because I know those who think that way or make those types of comments are in pain. More pain than I am. So I try to respond with compassion. ‘Tell me about your diabetes. What do you live with daily?’ Sometimes people just want to be heard. I can listen.

“Now let’s double the dose (to treat the reason I’m on it in the first place)”

I was under the care of a CDE for a while. Here was part of the interaction:

Me: “I read that ‘this med’ may contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes. I’m on that med. I know it didn’t cause my diabetes but could it be the reason my sugars are staying high?”

CDE: “No. Now let’s double the dose (to treat the reason I’m on it in the first place).”

OK. Admittedly I had no response. If you knew me, you’d know just how rare that is! Research is now saying that some meds contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes.2 That CDE didn’t listen or respect the fact that I have a knowledge base. She just dismissed me. It never feels good to be dismissed. In my head, I’m thinking I’m done here. I ended that relationship the next day. As iPhone’s Siri would say, ‘tongue sticking out.’

“Diabetes can be cured by (fill in the blank)”

Oh how I wish there was a cure! But I also understand the desperation we all feel at times when we feel trapped in a disease with no solution. My response is usually ‘I hadn’t heard of that before. I’d love to see research that supports that’ or simply ‘tell me more.’

And finally:

“…this site is mainly for type 1 diabetes”

I was on a weekly social media Twitter chat for people with diabetes. I had been observing it for sometime before I started to interact. The site was for people who had all types of diabetes. I noticed that the participants often strayed from the topic to sidebar conversations and that was the acceptable norm. So I posed a question about my new med. I was immediately shut down by a guy with type 2 diabetes who informed me “The intent for the Twitter chat is to follow the questions posed and since this site is mainly for type 1 diabetics you should ask that question somewhere else.” I felt betrayed. I felt angry. I stated what I had observed about the sidebar conversations. He still kept commenting. I fell silent after I politely informed him that I had heard his point, a couple times. I have struggled to go back to that twitter chat. Sometimes you just have to walk away if you have no further response.

I still believe that people don’t intentionally mean harm with their words. I still believe in the goodness people intend. However I need to be prepared for comments that come out wrong.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

  1. Noctor E, Dunne FP. Type 2 diabetes after gestational diabetes: The influence of changing diagnostic criteria. World Journal of Diabetes. 2015;6(2):234-244. doi:10.4239/wjd.v6.i2.234.
  2. Crandall JP, Mather K, Rajpathak SN on behalf of the Diabetes Prevention Program(DPP) Research Group, et al Statin use and risk of developing diabetes: results from the Diabetes Prevention Program BMJ Open Diabetes Research and Care 2017;5:e000438. doi: 10.1136/bmjdrc-2017-000438


  • Shelley, TheLongPointGirl moderator author
    1 year ago

    You are right! They don’t learn because they think they know. We can only be patient with ‘them that know’ and walk slower with those who are lost. I believe people don’t mean to be unkind, they just don’t think about what they say or how it sounds.

  • Thomas A McAtee Jr. moderator
    1 year ago

    Oh how I love the ‘deer in the headlights’ look when I explain things to people. And some of the remarks I hear are from people that have friends and relatives with diabetes. Some just don’t learn.

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