“Bad Diabetic”: Diabetes and the Shame Game
I was online searching for a topic for this week’s blog entry when I read a comment in a forum that really struck me in a deep way. I won’t directly quote, of course, but the gist of the comment was summed up with the words, “[I am] the worst diabetic ever.” The writer was clearly despondent, and felt that he was simply doing everything wrong. This individual was relatively new to our delightful world of diabetes, and I’m proud to say that follow-up comments were all hugely supportive and encouraging. In any event, I can relate to what he was feeling, as can most of us, I’m sure.
Our daily blood sugar readings (which we get every few hours or every five minutes with a continuous glucose monitor) and that all-important A1C feel like daily homework followed by the “end-of-semester-exam.” It feels like a direct reflection on “how well” we’ve managed our disease. A doctor reporting our high A1C can easily sound like a doctor saying, “you’re bad at diabetes; maybe not the worst I’ve seen, but verrry subpar — you get a D- in this class.” Our daily blood sugar readings can feel like a series of poorly graded papers. It can feel like a succession of personal failures, and it invites an of onslaught of self-shame that led the poor gentlemen I was telling you about to label himself a bad diabetic.
Here’s the truth: There’s no such thing as a “bad diabetic.” I mean it. Even folks who neglect their doctor’s advice, ignore their own best interests, and engage in willfully destructive behaviors; they’re not “bad diabetics.” We’re not “b Continue reading