I was a little snappy to you the other day. But then you were rude, so how about we call it even? I wrote this just after our little encounter and I hope you take it in the spirit in which it was written. That spirit being ‘pissed off’.
I didn’t say anything when you first started making comments directed at me. We were sitting in a busy café. A small, busy café with lots of people and some kids, and a woman trying to juggle a screaming baby and drink her coffee, and quite frankly, I was paying more attention to her to see if she needed any help trying to locate whatever it was she was desperately searching for amongst her gear.
So when you made your ‘Ugh – does she have to do that?’ comment while staring at me – and then pointing, I ignored you. I didn’t say ‘Yeah, I do. I’m checking my BGL to calibrate my CGM. The buzzing on my phone (because I should have already done it) is pissing me off and probably everyone around me. So, yes, I do have to do that.’
And then when you announced to your friend – and everyone else I the café (did I mention it was a small café) that I ‘must have diabetes,’ I ignored that too, even though I didn’t really see how my medical condition was any of your business, or of any interest to the rest of the people trying to have a morning coffee and prepare for the day.
I did throw a death stare at you when you moaned about the crying baby. I know that the kid had a set of lungs on him, and I know that he was loud, but I promise you that he wasn’t doing it on purpose. And no matter how uncomfortable it was making you feel, that’s nothing to how it was making his mum feel. I didn’t say that because that was the moment that I did lean over and offer to pass the mum the dummy she was reaching for in her baby’s pram, and then we had a bit of a chat after her little one settled down.
I looked away, but was listening intently, as you complained about how you’d seen people with diabetes inject in public and that you hate the thought of me leaving blood around the café after I’d finished calibrating my CGM. In no uncertain terms you announced with misplaced authority that ‘diabetics’ (your word; not mine) should use the bathrooms provided to do whatever it is we need to do.
I tried not to listen when you shared the story of someone you knew who had all sorts of nasty diabetes complications, because you were starting to sound like a cliché and I really don’t like to hear about end-stage renal failure before I’ve had at least two cups of coffee. I wasn’t there yet. Not nearly there yet.
But then, when you started your ill-informed rant about diabetes, I couldn’t stay quiet any longer. When you started saying that I probably shouldn’t have just added sugar to my morning coffee because I am ‘diabetic’ and that if only I ate better and did some exercise I’d be cured, I decided that it was time for us to have a little chat.
Could I have been more polite? Yeah, absolutely. But then, so could you. So I’m not actually going to apologise for my manner.
You probably didn’t listen to what I said, so I’ll lay it out for you again:
Yes, I have diabetes. No amount of exercise or different eating is going to change that fact. But that’s not really the point. The point is that it’s not your concern that I have diabetes, and certainly none of your business to suggest how I could better manage my condition – especially when not asked. Diabetes cannot be cured, so you should probably strike that piece of advice off your playlist for good.
It’s not appropriate to chastise someone for doing a task that needs to be done to manage that condition. I’m pretty sure I’m right when I say that no one voluntarily jabs their finger to check their BGL because it’s fun and they’ve nothing better to do. I can also promise you that your claim that I’ve left ‘blood all over the café’ is completely groundless. I generally don’t splatter blood from my tiny finger prick test on every surface nearby.
But this is the message that I really hope got through: It’s not your place to comment, criticise, or appraise someone’s health condition. Nor is it okay to judge someone. We get enough of that – often from ourselves. Really, you should have said nothing. Nothing at all.
After I finished what I was saying, I stood up and went to the counter to pay because I wasn’t interested in hearing your reply. You’d already said more than enough. But I did leave you my card with the address this blog. I’m hoping that you typed in the URL and started to read. (Actually, I hope you’re doing it after I post this, so you can read this letter because you did, after all, inspire the content here today. Thanks for the content.)
And I hope that you click on a couple of other posts and have a read about what it’s like for me to live with diabetes to give you an idea of just how wrong you seem to have the whole diabetes thing.
If you see me again in the café, feel free to come up and say hi and we can have a chat. As long as you have remembered your manners and can be respectful, I promise to be polite in return. I’ll even buy you a coffee and answer any questions you might have.
Reprinted with kind permission from Renza Scibilia. Check out Renza's blog, Diabetogenic.