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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Did she really just say that?

We were at our kids’ end-of-the-school year party. 
I had attended the entire three-hour celebration, following Jack around the park, carrying his D kit, monitoring his behavior and his coloring, testing his blood sugar, giving him insulin and doing what a mama pancreas does.
This other mother came for the first few minutes, then left and went home, before returning near the end of the party, which was when I spotted her.
I hadn’t seen her in a while, so I went over to say hello.
“You stayed the whole time?” she asked with a tone of disbelief.
“I had to,” I replied. 
“Why?” she asked, looking perplexed and seeming as if no one in her right mind would stay for the entire party.
“Because of Jack’s diabetes.”
“Couldn’t the nurse have handled it for you?” she questioned. “Or, wait a minute, why can’t he handle this all on his own now?”
“He’s not there yet. He still needs help. The nurse and his teacher are both great, but the nurse is at school and we’re at a park. And, the teacher can’t administer an insulin injection. Plus, the kids were divided into groups, and the teacher was roaming the park, going from group to group, so she couldn’t keep her eyes on him. Not only that, but with the heat, the excitement and the nonstop activity, I was concerned Jack would go low, and I needed to give him an insulin shot for the pizza and the Gogurt and the popsicles the kids were served.” 
“Geez, that’s a pain,” she replied. 
“I have this neighbor,” she continued. “He has diabetes really bad. I mean really bad. He has this thing that’s implanted under his skin to give him insulin. His wife’s a nurse, and she’s always getting mad at him. I’ll see him out in his yard, and he’ll be all woozy, looking like shit, and I’ll think, ‘Dude, you’re 42 or 43 years old, haven’t you learned to control this by now?’”
“Did she really just say that?” I thought. “She clearly knows nothing about this disease.”
I attempted to seize the opportunity to educate. 
“There is no control with diabetes,” I explained. “It’s a disease that you can manage, but not control. You can try to control it, but sometimes, no matter what you do, you will end up too high or too low, which is probably what happens to your neighbor when you see him woozy.”
“Yeah, one time he had a seizure,” she said. “His wife had to take him to the E.R. and I got stuck babysitting their kids. He thought he was going to die.”
“Seizures are a real threat with diabetes. It’s a serious disease. It can be managed, but it’s a challenge. I’m sure that seizure scared the heck out of your neighbor. He may be doing everything right. He may take great care of himself, but even so, he can still go low or high at any time, and he can still seize.” 
“Well, it was nice talking to you. Have a great summer!” she said, ending the conversation, obviously hearing enough from me at that point and disinterested in hearing more.
I was done with her, too. 
The conversation, however, disturbed me for the rest of the day. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Her judgment and lack of empathy astonished me. She is ignorant and yet so critical. 
I realize diabetes isn’t a part of her life. I don’t expect her to know much, if anything, but I also don’t appreciate such a harsh tone and judgmental remarks. A little—just a little—empathy would be nice.
I run into people like her all the time, and they stir my emotions. 
They give me reason to defend my son and others, who live with diabetes.
They make me want to shield Jack from their opinions and criticism and protect his emotions.
And then, after my irritation subsides, they compel me to raise awareness. 
They motivate me to keep talking about type one. 
They encourage me to continue fundraising for JDRF.
They inspire me to tell the “real” story and share the dark side of diabetes. 
They perpetuate my desire to serve as an advocate for all and a mentor for the newly diagnosed.
They remind me to never give up.


The DL said...

ew I would have punched her.

Denise aka 'Mom of Bean' said...

First, I am so proud of you for not knocking her out cold! ;)
Second, such great information you were able to weave into the conversation...hope she thought about it and it bothered her for the rest of the day, and days to come as well!

Lora said...

They make me want to slap them!!!
Wait! Did I just say that??

What a fucknut!! You must have been blessed with more patience than I becuase I would have given up after she said thats a pain.

Hope you had a great day at the park.

Sarah said...

man o man it must have been the day for stupid comments galore. I had a moment today with my doctor. I left sobbing actually. I may blog about it I may not, but darn these fools for not thinking first and pity on anybody who says anything so stupid to my child for they won't ever forget what I'll say in return.
Glad you're a level headed loving mama who is willing to hear that and stay calm.

busymom said...

Bless your heart. I'm so sorry. You absolutely did the right thing-I'm sure it took amazing self-control!! : )

So glad you left encouraged and inspired, way to go!! : ) (and enjoy your summer alarms..and letting kids pick out their clothes, heehee!) Hugs, Holly

Michelle said...

Comments like that make my blood boil! It's hard for me to stay calm and educate once someone starts being all judgemental. I hope some of what you said sticks with her a bit and makes her think!

Meri said...

I am proud of you for putting out the information, even if she wasn't ready to hear it!

Shaking my head on this one!!


Denise said...

This is why it is so important for all of us to educate those not living with D. People just have NO idea. (being confused with type 2 doesn't help, either)

Sounds like you handled this well. Hope it sticks with her and makes her think.

Amy said...

UGH! Just reading your conversation with her was making me angry! Proud of you though for trying to educate her and for not slapping her...:o)

Reyna said...

I woulda COLD COCKED her! Actually, I would have attempted to handle it as graciously as you did Heidi. You did marvelous. She did not want to listen. She just wanted to spew out her misperceptions of "D".

Tracy (The Crazy Pancreas) said...

So glad you tried to educate her, even if she was being ignorant. And maybe, just maybe, after she walked away from you she took some time to "think" about what you had talked about, just as you had. Maybe, just maybe it did make her more aware.

I can hope anyway. :)

shannon said...

Holy. Crapballs. I too am amazed that you kept a clear enough head to respond rationally, as I was seeing red just reading about it!

L has recently mentioned how certain comments people make really bother her, so I've been mulling this topic over in my head.

Thanks for being so clear and for advocating. For all type 1s.

Amy said...

Oh no she di'ent. Really? Cause that is just plain rude and n-a-s-t-y. What is really horrible is that I run into people like this ALL the time. I feel like a stupid magnet. Like I have "All ignorant people please come talk to me" tatooed on my forhead (or arse ;))

I always try to educate and make aware the incorrect assumptions, but it is sooooooo difficult when the 'listener' appears to be tuning you out. I am thinking of putting together a pamphlet so I can just smile, nod and walk away.

Wanna collaborate on that project?! :)

May 26, 2011 8:27 AM
Oh no she di'ent. Really? Cause that is just plain rude and n-a-s-t-y. What is really horrible is that I run into people like this ALL the time. I feel like a stupid magnet. Like I have "All ignorant people please come talk to me" tatooed on my forhead (or arse ;))

I always try to educate and make aware the incorrect assumptions, but it is sooooooo difficult when the 'listener' appears to be tuning you out. I am thinking of putting together a pamphlet so I can just smile, nod and walk away.

Wanna collaborate on that project?! :)

Sarah said...

Oh wow I would have been so angry!
The same thing has happened to me with one of my friends who said "All you have to do is give yourself insulin, it's no big deal" I got really upset about it, but I have come to realise that it's totally not her fault, she doesn't know the first thing about diabetes. And the thing is you can explain until you're blue in the face, but other people will never understand!

Lorraine of "This is Caleb..." said...

This is so outrageous it's like you made up the most obnoxious things a person could say just to prove a point. I can't believe it's real.

So sad. What's wrong with people. It doesn't matter if you don't understand D, as a human, you should understand sensitivity, discretion and/or diplomacy.

Rachael said...

Nothing hurts more then when people make these rude comments. Being a PWD, I know it is so hurtful. All you Mamas are right, there is NO CONTROL no matter how "perfect" you are trying to be. Heidi you are awesome. Love you awesome friend!

Liz said...

Thanks for having the patience to explain to an ignorant, judgemental (ok, I'll stop the name calling) stupid (stop) person that this is a disease that we can only do our best to manage.

Unfortunately we can not "enlighten" someone who is not willing to listen (or too stupid...stop) but we have to keep getting the information out there. Maybe next time she'll think before she spews her uneducated, mis-informed "bs" on her neightbor.

Thank you for trying to educate her!!!!!

Heidi / D-Tales said...

Thanks, everyone! Unbelievable, huh?!

Lorraine, I know! I wish I'd made that up! I've known this woman for 4 years, since our oldest kids entered kindergarten together. I've always thought she was nice (not so sure any more!), but opinionated. She never minces words, but this convo took the cake! She blew me away. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. I had to try to set her straight. I was so upset afterward, but I'm hoping some of what I said sank in.

Whenever I hear stupid, incorrect, ignorant, judgmental people talking about diabetes like that (Liz, you pegged her!), I have to speak up. I try to dispel myths and educate.

Amy, I'll be your partner for sure! Let's get to work on that pamphlet! :)

Jules said...

I cannot believe she also said 'i got stuck with his kids' OMG! OMG !!! she wanted them to be home alone while this guys life was in danger. what a dipshit. Im so glad we have each other when theres ignorant f*ckers like that out there.

Wendy said...

O. M. Gsh.




I'm speechless. Dumbfounded.

How the heck does someone like this function? To think that she's someone's PARENT?!?!?!?!?!


Adequate Mom said...

My son is newly diagnosed, so I'm dealing with all the well-intentioned, but stupid, things people say when you first have to tell them. I love that you posted this because it's a great inspiration to me to focus that frustration on stuff that makes a difference.
Thank you!