What Can A Family Do?

October 18th, 2010 by Amy Gonsalves Leave a reply »

I’ve been reading comments about various things I’ve posted on Facebook and I’ve seen a theme among some people: they wish their family did something or didn’t do something or helped in some way, and they are frustrated by their family’s response to their disease.

I can understand that.

I always kind of assume my family knows what I think about when it comes to food.  I learned the hard way how wrong that assumption was when I sat down to a family meal a few years ago and asked my mom how much sugar she had put into some dish.  She told me and I calculated the appropriate bolus.

Ten minutes later, I took my first bite and turned to her and asked her the question again.  I pressed and said “real sugar?” and she then said “yes, well, Splenda!”


I have a number of these same types of stories and I’m sure you do too.  It does seem to weaken my trust in my immediate family members when I realize they just don’t even think about what I have to think about all the time every day. 

But on the other side, I’m not sure they need to think about all of the ins and outs.  I already need to think about my disease continually in order to preserve my own health; I’m not sure why I should need them to do it as well.   

I’ve used each of these surprises with each person as an opportunity to teach my family members what they missed—was it that I can’t be without my insulin pump for more than 30-45 minutes?  Or that I need to know accurate carbohydrate counts so that I cover the carbs with my insulin?  Or that I can’t take a surprise hike after dinner to an unknown destination up a hill 4 miles away with only 5 glucose tabs? 

Does it mean having to explain to a family member that the comfort you once found in cookies now carries a heavy burden instead of the comfort they intended to offer?  Does it mean you have to teach them about what happens to your body when you have a high blood sugar, or a low blood sugar?  Does it mean they need to learn from you how you want them to treat you, all over again?

It most assuredly does.

You are in charge of your diabetes.  You are in charge of how you see your disease, and how you see yourself with it.  You are in charge of how you handle yourself when it comes to your family’s reaction to your disease. 

Are you going to stay quiet, internalize and complain later?  Forever?  Are you going to get through whatever crisis it is, and come back the next time with a different attitude to explain what it felt like when they didn’t recognize your constant fight with your blood sugar levels?  Does it mean you invite them to your next doctor’s appointment so they can hear what you hear every few months?

Maybe so.  Because I promise you they are never going to understand if you don’t take the time to explain.  And explain.  And explain again.  They already love you and want to support you as best they can, so what do you have to lose?

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