Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Do Tell (or don't)

I was visiting acquaintance-friends the other day (wives of my husband’s friends) and one of them asked how my diabetes was. I don’t see them very often and we really don’t keep in touch, but they’re very nice and I know it was a genuine question. I said I was doing well. They asked a few other questions and I answered with easy, quick replies that wouldn’t be too confusing.

I’m more than happy to tell people who are interested every little detail about my diabetic life. However, when people ask how I’m doing, I’m always a little leery about whether they really want to know, or if their question is more like a “Hi! How are you?” type of greeting that you throw to your elevator buddy (the person who works on the floor of your building, but not in your office).

Do you tell, or don’t you? How much information do you give? I sometimes forget how much I can sputter on about meters and blood sugar levels when other people have no clue what I’m talking about. I don’t want to be the one at the party or gathering who turns out to be the “medically challenged” person who can only talk about prescriptions and injections. I am diabetic, but I’m also a lot more than that, and I can actually hold an intelligent, interesting conversation that has nothing to do with carbohydrates or insulin.

It’s been almost five years and I’m still trying to fit diabetes into an etiquette book. DO make polite small talk. DO NOT bore your chit-chat partner. DO say something interesting and unique about yourself. DO NOT give lectures or lessons when they’re not asked for. Perhaps I should become the new Emily Post, with a specialty in chronic illnesses?

As always, more to come…


Araby62 said...

It's a tough call for me. I'm 'closeted' at work because I've had more than one incident of discrimination in my past -- yes, I know, I should be educating and advocating, yada yada. But I'm just me, and sometimes I'd just rather be known for my work than being the "diabetic in the office". (The only place I worked that was 100% cool about it was the federal government, by the way. Completely intolerant? My current employer, who has already asked me why I don't have the cheaper HMO -- my PCP isn't on it, so no way am I switching.)

On the other hand I always answer well-meaning questions from close friends and loved ones. It's hard to balance between making them worry over every high blood sugar or hypo, though.

For casual acquaintances, I prefer to leave it out of the discussion entirely. It's a tough call -- I want to advocate, but I also don't want to be labeled as "just" a PWD. And we PWDs sometimes assume others are as well-informed about diabetes -- even those who might also have it. Life's too short for me, personally, to spend time justifying my disease or my choices.

Great topic!

Cara said...

Hi, I just found your blog! I like finding new people. It's more experiences to share.
As far as telling, or not telling. That's a tough one. I use my own gut to make that call. If they ask specifically about my diabetes I usually just say, "Doing pretty good lately. How are you?" Unless it's someone I care to share with. Then I will talk more in depth.
I have had nosy people that I didn't want to share with. I make it a point to stop after the "Doing well."
I think it's just a case by case basis though. I've been dealing with it for 23 years now, and each time it's different. So use your gut and go from there.

Gail said...

Hi Lora, I just found your blog and am enjoying it very much. I have been a Type 1 for 32 years and the tight control you have will inspire me to take better care of myself. As for telling or not, I think it really depends on how close they are to you. The closer they are, the more they will want to know!

Minnesota Nice said...

I agree that it definitely depends on who's asking.
Some people are sincerely interested.
Some have what I call "morbid curiosity" and get satisfaction from leering at the unpleasant aspects of db.
And, some ask and don't stop to wait for an answer so I don't even bother.