Before I go on, I must preface this Blog with the fact that most diabetic police mean well (so if my aunt reads this, I want you to know that I know you meant well). In my last blog I talked about colleagues, now let’s take a look at relatives.
So it was one of my many days filled with erroneous information about what’s best for a child living with diabetes.
It was a hot, humid and sunny day in Washington D.C. I left school at 3:00 PM for my long walk to my aunt’s house. My mom had her watch me until she got home from work. Today wasn’t the first day she had watched me and, unfortunately, it wasn’t the last either.
I left out of the back entrance of Westbrook Elementary school. I started down the hill, walked by the baseball field and across the bridge that extended over a concrete brook. After crossing the bridge, I entered my aunt’s neighborhood that was behind the school’s athletic field.
After walking up a long hill and getting startled by one of the neighborhood dogs, I was finally about a block away from my aunt’s house and very thirsty.
I entered the house, went to the fridge and grabbed a cold TAB (diet soda!). I sat down at the living room table and was about to crack the TAB open. When my aunt tells me to stop. “No soda until dinner time,” I asked why and she said that it was a household rule.
I was craving that TAB and asked, “Since when?” She said, “Since my cousin, who was a year older, needed to lose some weight.” I stated that I didn’t need to lose weight and that this was all I could drink.
She said if I was thirsty I could have as much orange juice as I would like. I then informed her that I couldn’t drink OJ. That I would like to have some soda since there was nothing else to drink (unlike now where we have bottled water and have to pay for what comes free out of the sink).
“If you don’t want the orange juice then you’ll have to wait until dinner, to have something to drink!!!” It was 1982 not 1882. Even back then it was common knowledge that juices were bad for people living with diabetes, unless one was having a reaction!
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.”
So, my wisdom as a 10-year-old child was questionable at best. First, I will tell my mother about my aunt’s “new rule” and she will straighten it all out. It sounded like a good plan, and it would have been, if that was the wisdom I used.
No, instead I went with the “wait until my aunt wasn’t around, sneak soda out of the fridge. Then I could go to the basement, to drink it there” strategy – which is what worked.
In The End
All “diabetic police” mean well but they don’t realize the damage they can do on many levels. My aunt wanted to help her son lose weight by having everyone follow the same diet that put my health at risk. What if I didn’t know and had drunk a whole lot of orange juice every day after school?
I am glad that I knew better! :o)
If you get upset every time a diabetic police person shows up in your life, you will go crazy. Try using the serenity prayer above to manage how you handle the situation.
For parents of children with diabetes: it is great if your son or daughter knows right from wrong regarding managing their diabetes but the person you are leaving them with may not. Make sure that the individual who watches your child understands what your child requires to maintain their BG levels.
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.