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Pardon Me Miss or Mister: There is an Elephant on the Table

08/07/2013 10:48

It’s a jungle out there they say.  Sometimes “the jungle” is happening within our relationships with others though.

When you meet a new acquaintance, does your divulging of diabetes cross your mind at some point?  How about if you know you are going to have ongoing interactions with this person or group of new people?  It may be a question of your level of comfort talking about diabetes or time & experience living with the diagnosis.   

Our health can feel deeply personal to us & difficult to talk about at times especially with newcomers.  I am incredibly comfortable with advocating about diabetes & dispelling myths. I hope to encourage other folks to take the opportunity to learn the actual facts.  It did not take me long to get to this point yet we are each unique & I sure try to be sensitive to folks who are still building their level of comfort.  The thing that I find more challenging is potentially talking to other folks who do not have diabetes who may feel like asking Scotty “to beam them up.”  Are other folks uncomfortable when they see us treating our diabetes or having us share that we have this?  You bet a lot of folks seem to be!  The great news is that with education comes comfort.

My sharing of type 1 with new acquaintances has 2 speeds:  slow or fast.  To determine whether I will simply let our relationship develop & naturally in time share or share right away is dependent upon 2 things.  The groups that are of a more sedentary nature can be slow speed sharing. The groups that I become involved in that have physical components or involve working with children’s groups are fast speed sharing.  Fast speed sharing is what I refer to humorously as mentioning in a low key way that there is an “elephant on the table”.  The reason is that if I go into low blood sugar, the other adults need to know what is happening & that I have to “juice up” & have 10 minutes on a “recess for one”.  It is to me just common sense to provide this information much like as a parent, we would not hesitate to share allergy information about our children.

Diabetes is not funny yet we can choose to approach the subject with comfort.  That is the reason that for me at least, I literally share when needed with new folks the one liner, “excuse me Miss or Mister but there is an elephant on the table.”  It has so far almost always resulted in alleviating any discomfort yet at the same time sharing necessary information.

Most times, I find that others appreciate knowing that we are proactively sharing information that will be helpful particularly if we need to treat a low blood sugar during a community activity.  If we are part of a team, then it makes sense to share this information that can affect others within the group.  In my experience, the vast majority of people have been gems in receiving the “elephant on the table.”  There have been a handful of folks that have continued to want to be “beamed up by Scotty.”  Those few folks were uncomfortable with any approach to discussion of diabetes or 365 challenges.  These are generally the folks that as a result of his or her choice have been caught off guard when I have gone into hypoglycemia because they had “tuned out” when I shared the information initially about “the elephant in the room.”  One example of that was an instance when I requested information about a group hike & the person gave me information that the hike would be half the distance of what it turned out to be in reality.  I had mentioned to this person that I did not mean to bother them however I would need the exercise information so that I could give myself the correct amount of insulin at breakfast time just prior to the hike.  Immediately following the hike, I was in low blood sugar.  I quietly went to an area in the picnic area following the hike & drank a juice box at the speed of light.  Several similar situations continued to happen with let’s call this person “Scotty” because they could not handle “elephants in the room.”  “Scotty” is only being mentioned just to be realistic that not every single person is going to be understanding about “the elephant.”  Could it be that some people can actually be detrimental to our health?  We answer that question for ourselves.  We also get to choose whether we will continue to interchange with folks with that “elephant barrier.”  The great news is that the folks that want to be part of “the safari” are the norm I have found.  My heart is grateful to “the safari” crowd.

The “elephant on the table” way of sharing may not be your style yet it may just give you an idea of how you would feel most comfortable sharing with newcomers.  I sure hope so!

Smiles, Saundie :)

May you be surrounded with an encouraging "safari" & next Monday's sharing is "BYOD"  :)