I try to be a pretty positive person. I think you have to be just to get through life without running yourself ragged. Sometimes outlook shapes outcome.
When I recently opened up comments and asked people to tell me how diabetes has touched their lives, I had no idea the comments and e-mails I would get.
Yes, I had some that were wonderful. Some people who told me uplifting stories. Some people who just wanted to show support. Some people who said they walk in my shoes.
And then there were the bad.
I bring this up because of how someone reacted to my daughter the other day. We were on our way to St. Louis and stopped in Collinsville at the Steak ‘n Shake for lunch. My daughter has been so excited about this “vacation” and packed over a month ago. Every person that she interacted with during this pit stop she told that we were on our way to our vacation.
She was just being herself. Her normal, outgoing, sociable self.
It didn’t matter to her that the point of her vacation was to go to St. Louis Children’s. She thought that it was great to get away from the normal routine and hit the zoo, the science center, and the hotel pool.
So when she announced to our waitress that she has diabetes, I was so disappointed in the reaction that the person gave her.
She gave her pity.
She said, “Oh…I’m soooo sorry.”
What does this woman have to be sorry about? My daughter is obviously not upset by it. She is not ashamed of it. She does not hide it.
We were having lunch and diabetes management is a part of every. single. meal. So of course she told the waitress about diabetes as I was getting out all of our supplies.
As I was figuring out her carbs and dosage in my little notebook, as I do for each and every meal, I turned to a fresh page and wrote:
Here is a tip for you:
My four-year-old daughter doesn’t need your pity. I found your condescension to be rude.
But instead of leaving the note as her tip, I left money. (And not thinking I left a great tip, darn!)
I am hesitant these days to read the comments about how diabetes has touched people’s lives because for every uplifting comment, there is a horrible one.
Telling me that a relative died very early due to complications.
Telling me that a relative had seizures.
Telling me that they have severe lows.
Telling me everything negative.
Of course I know that it won’t always be smooth sailing. But come on people. You don’t tell someone all the bad things. To comfort a cancer patient would you start naming all the people you know who have died from it?
Trust me, I don’t need to be reminded of ulcers on feet, of amputations, of impaired vision, of cardiovascular disease, of difficulties getting pregnant, of seizures, of hospitalizations, of death well before average life expectancy.
I know. I already know. Don’t you think that it’s always in the back of a mother’s mind all the terrible things that could befall her child?
So here’s my tip: If you don’t have something positive to say to a stranger, and especially to a child, then don’t say anything at all.