“I know better than you so…” Someone living with diabetes can work with the same people for years. Then you get to a place in your life where you want to take care of you, but to do so, you need to inform your co-workers that you have diabetes. When you’re having a reaction, then you need their understanding and help so you can take care of it.
Now that you have told them, the cat is out of the bag, and you have “police” everywhere. At the birthday party for a co-worker, the question asked is not, “What size piece would you like?” Instead, it is, “Aren’t you not supposed to eat sweets?” Or you’ll hear, “I’ll just give you a little piece because you have diabetes.” Despite this behavior, I do think to tell your boss and others around you that you have it is a good thing, but it depends on your particular situation.
Having issues with a coworker wasn’t my first experience with the “diabetic police” nor will it be my last. So the date is February 14th, 2011. Yep, Valentine’s Day, chocolate and candies everywhere. There is always one in every office, “the know it all,” overbearing mother. Well, this particular Valentine’s Day I was at the office and what do I see in my mailbox but a small box of chocolate. When I say small, I mean small: one miniature Hershey bar and three chocolate kisses. But hey, someone thought of me, and I was happy to have gotten a Valentine gift.
My eyes glanced left to the mailbox next to me. There I see a big box of candy. I glance to the right and lo and behold, another big box of candy. Everyone has a big box of candy but me! Imagine 20 mailboxes at work filled with large boxes of candy. Oh, make that 19 mailboxes of candy. LOL: :0(
Gee, I wonder if they are all from the same person and guess what? They were! Wow, I didn’t see that one coming from a mile away.
I love chocolate, but that wasn’t quality chocolate in my mailbox. If I am going to play with my insulin for a treat, it needs to be worth the calories.
1018 Madison Avenue and 78th Street, New York, NY10075
— best chocolate ever! It’s pricey but worth every cent.
So, on with the show – and what a show it was. Later that day, the lovely woman who put all of those boxes of candy in the mailboxes came up to me (and for argument’s sake, let’s call her Lady X). I saw her coming, making it a point to catch me as I was walking down the hallway at work. She stopped me and said, “I just wanted you to know that I gave you a smaller one because I know it’s not good for people with diabetes to have sugar. But I didn’t want you to feel left out.”
My internal thoughts were that I should thank her for the gift was….followed by, “You stupid b**ch! So you thought singling me out was better than leaving me out of your BS.” I smiled, said nothing and walked away while rolling my eyes.
I mean Good Grief Charlie Brown, I thought to myself, and then let it go.
So I forgave Lady X for her insensitivity because why would I let anger ruin my day? She doesn’t live with diabetes and doesn’t understand what it’s like for me – and never will. My time is too valuable to give to a layperson.
In the end, all “diabetic police” mean well but they don’t realize the damage they can do on many levels, which I will get into over the next month.
Eliot LeBow, LCSW, CDE, is a diabetes-focused psychotherapist. His private practice, located in New York City and is also available via Skype. LeBow, who has been living with type 1 diabetes since 1977, treats the many diverse cognitive, behavioral, and emotional needs of people living with type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
All the advice included in this blog is therapeutic in nature and should not be considered medical advice. Before making any changes to your diabetes maintenance program, please consult with your primary physician or endocrinologist.