Handle with care and keep smiling
Mother taught me that a person is known by the company that he keeps and that happiness is contagious. Psychologists tell us that being surrounded by optimistic people can be a positive influence.
People who deal with the diagnosis of diabetes have an increased risk of depression. New research proves that what mother advised is true. Positive people can help produce positive blood glucose results and decrease the affects of depression.
While talking with a group of people who test and monitor their blood glucose levels daily, the conversation turned toward emotions and feelings. They said that it is OK to not pay attention to negative people.
If someone invites a person with diabetes to dinner and they proceed to scold them for eating this and that, then the guest should not have accepted the invitation. The group recommended that the guest should leave as soon and politely as possible.
Nonsupportive people sabotage the health of any person with a chronic illness, especially diabetes. People who deal with this disease need support to motivate and enhance their healthy behavioral skills. They do not need anyone interfering with their diabetes self-care efforts.
My friends reminded me that no one really knows what it is like to deal with diabetes unless they have to do it. Successful diabetes self–care often involves a complete life-style change. They tell me, “Unless you live with it, you have no clue.”
Although I do not have to personally deal with diabetes, many of my friends do. It does affect me. Positive encouragement is an appreciated asset.
My key to being a helpful friend is to stay informed and understand that even though I may have a degree and credentials to comprehend this disease, I do not know how they feel. My goal is to remain as positive as possible.
A spouse or caretaker of someone with diabetes needs to know the signs and symptoms of low and high blood sugars. When blood sugars are not within a normal range, scolding or nagging are the worst possible reactions.
Instead of reprimanding, a person with an abnormal blood sugar needs understanding. Asking them, “How can I help?” or “Tell me what you need,” may be the kindest thing to say.
Frustration and anger are a fact of this disease. People are frustrated because many times their blood sugars fluctuate through no known fault of their own. Anger often occurs because their body betrayed them.
Denial is not uncommon. Food and exercise is medicine, a routine in the life of someone with diabetes. Constant reminders from a loved one can cause guilt. Guilt is a stressful emotion which can make blood sugars fluctuate.
This disease is neither for sissies nor the faint of heart. It involves needles and blood and urine and syringes, just to survive. I wish that every person with diabetes had a label on them that said, “Handle With Care.”
Bobbie Randall is a certified diabetes educator, registered, licensed dietitian. She supervises a diabetes self-management training program at Aultman-Orrville Hospital, Orrville. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org 330–684-4776