I read constantly how uninformed most people are when it comes to diabetes. I'm willing to bet that the average man on the street couldn't tell you the difference between a type 1 and a type 2 if his life depended on it. Another pet peeve of mine is those who ignorantly believe that people with diabetes can control their disease. Really? Like my kids had anything to do with being born with a broken down pancreas. Or, people who think you can cure type 1 diabetes by drinking less Coke.
This kind of thinking—and lack of knowledge—about diabetes seems shockingly stupid until I take a step back a remind myself that I did't know anything abut diabetes before Kaitlyn was diagnosed. I mean why should it offend me that people who aren't personally impacted by diabetes don't know an awful lot about it.
I also think of those I respect—researchers I've met, certified diabetes educators, registered nurses, etc.— and am humbled by how much I still don't know and how much more work I still need to do.
There was a time, not that long ago that I was 'that stupid,’ too and because life took an unexpected turn for us, knowledge became the order of the day. So it's probably not fair of me to penalize anyone with my scorn because they are fortunate enough NOT TO HAVE to learn about this disease. Why should they have to crowd their brains with complicated health knowledge if they don’t have to?
Many times, over the years, “You would think ‘syndrome’……..” has come into play. You know, “You would think a relative would know at least...” Really? Why should they? Isn’t it enough to know all there is about one’s own family to have to then learn about others’ problems? And there is a difference between being sympathetic toward, and needing to learn about. My family is deeply sympathetic to our plight, well most of them are, but to say they are knowledgeable is an entirely different discussion.
It's easy to think, “Can’t they even…”; and it is at this point I usually stop myself. I have— and hear me on this—taught myself to live by something my mom taught me years and years ago. Full of wisdom and assuredness she announced: “Tom, because it’s important to you, does not mean it’s as important to anyone else.” It just isn’t. Plus, I’m better served to be surprised when someone asks me something than to expect something.
Not to be misunderstood, it’s not that it does not bother me; it will always bother me when someone asks, does, says, something regarding my kids’ diabetes that irks me. But it’s what we do with it and as I stated, I just reflect upon it and use it to remind me that I too have much more to learn.
Some of the ignorance has actually been humorous, so there's that. Diabetes is NOT funny but human nature surely can be and over the years there have been some doozies. One of my favorites is, still, the person who was very clear with us that she knew exactly what we were going through because she had cared for a loved one with diabetes. She knew exactly all the heart aches we live with and the sleepless nights because of her experiences.
Guess who the family member she was speaking about was? Her dog. “And after a month I just could not deal with it anymore and gave him away,” she recounted. WOW! I certainly didn't expect that outcome. Human nature folks, human nature.
But I knew (and know to this day) that at one point we had to learn much; and others will never know as much…ever. The fact that friends and relatives even asks how we are means something to me. And the fact that so many who know very, very, little also support diabetes causes important to me; THAT means a whole lot too. So be a little tolerant of others…they care, they just don’t know. And truth be told, neither did you...until you had to.
I am a Diabetes Dad.