I'm not really sure about how my friends feel


(Anna Marie) #1

I've had Diabetes for 5 years now. I have a few "best friends" but I still can't figure out how they feel about my diabetes. I know that they have a general understanding, like "high and low are bad... I think... right?" but they don't seem to really get it. I don't know if they're just shying away from the subject or what the deal is, but it's really annoying. In middle school, I really have a hard time trying to explain it to people, mostly because I'm very self-consious about it. But it seems like my friends are all still battling that, blood-pressure blood sugar thing, and I feel like a freak trying to check my blood and bolus at lunch. I get so many stares from my not-so-much-best-friends-whom-I'm-really-starting-to-hate 's that I'll sometimes skip checking my blood, or I'll put it off 'til an hour after I eat. I know it's unhealthy, but I just can't deal with the "Ew"'s and the "does that hurt"'s or the "I hate needles, do that somewhere else"'s and the "That is just NASTY!"'s. I can usually ignore them to an extent, as in I don't freak out on them, but when it gets to the point where enough is enough, I think my little explosions scare people away. Of course I never do that to my better friends, because, well, they've learned that critisizing my problems is not a good way to go. I just wish I knew a better way to communicate to them what this and that really mean. Like what a high blood sugar is doing to my body, or why I might be in a rotten mood because of it. Or when I'm on my way out the door of a friends house, and I try to tell them I'm low, I really can't walk all the way across town and be just fine. It really scares me to walk home on a low because I have passed out at the park on an occasion, and another time right in the middle of class (when I was in elementary)!!! So my question is, do I just ingore everyone and anyone that doesn't understand or just won't try to? Or do I try to teach them more about how my life works? Do I tell them that I can't take their constant quizzes when I need to do something diabetes realated? How can I explain that not only am I having trouble with my diabetes, but I'm also having trouble mentally because of the toll it has been taking on me recently? How do I explain anything????? I'm sorry about the long post, but I am really hitting a rut here, and I would greatly appreciate some help getting out of it.

 

Anna Marie


(Danielle) #2

Anna Marie

I know things are really hard right now...and I hate to say it but they probably won't get any easier.  I know that people are going to reply and say that they aren't really your friends and that you will find some that will accept you for who you are but that isn't always the easiest things to change.  Friends are important in life especially when you are dealing with big changes in your life like diabetes and moving through school.  Your friends may never really understand what you are dealing with and there will probably be things in their lives that don't understand but you still need their support and so will they.  

Now that I have said that...testing your blood sugar late or not at all is very unhealthy and is beginning a very bad path that in my experience has been really hard to get off of.  I know that your explosions are probably scary to your friends but maybe you should sit down with them and have a very serious conversation about what they are doing to you mentally.  Try to explain to them that being a diabetic isn't easy to begin with and it is even harder when your friends aren't supportive.  If things don't change it may be time to move on to new best friends.  I know it will be a difficult conversation to have and that it possibly will mark the end of your friendship but I think it is the best and most mature way to handle the situation.

I hope this helps and I understand it's hard but trust me it is even harder to find your way back to a healthy lifestyle once you have strayed from it.


(Anonymous) #3

 

OK, something that I've sort of come to realize these past few days: a wide range of friends is good. One friend can't do everything.
I am glad to announce that I've come to better terms with one of my close friends about diabetes. I think we have a better understanding; we talked about it a little bit, and it was great to get the chance to open up. But while I am glad to know they are there for me when I need it, I also took into account that even if they can be there for me, they won't understand like my friends here on Juvenation do.
This probably doesn't make any sense; I shouldn't respond to posts while I'm low. But I'll give it a shot...
My (attempted) point is that while it would be ideal for friends to understand everything and be accepting, I don't think its 100% attainable since they have not experienced it. Also from talking to my friend I've realized how much I do appreciate the friends I have at home, and the friends I have on Juvenation.
OK. I'm stopping now. This really isn't making any sense.... even I wouldn't get it if I read it, and I thought it. Yes. I'm going to go test now. And possibly get more juice...
I'll come back when I'm thinking clearer and try to spruce this up a bit :) Let me know if you get what I mean...

 


(Anna Marie) #4

Yeah, I understand what you are saying, and I'm seeing your point. I guess just knowing that someone out there really does understand helps, a lot. Thanks for that. I'm thinking about talking to my friends about this, and I'm pretty sure that it's going to be awkward, but maybe it will give me some peace. Thanks again!


(Anna Marie) #5

[quote user="Danielle"]

Anna Marie

I know things are really hard right now...and I hate to say it but they probably won't get any easier.  I know that people are going to reply and say that they aren't really your friends and that you will find some that will accept you for who you are but that isn't always the easiest things to change.  Friends are important in life especially when you are dealing with big changes in your life like diabetes and moving through school.  Your friends may never really understand what you are dealing with and there will probably be things in their lives that don't understand but you still need their support and so will they.  

Now that I have said that...testing your blood sugar late or not at all is very unhealthy and is beginning a very bad path that in my experience has been really hard to get off of.  I know that your explosions are probably scary to your friends but maybe you should sit down with them and have a very serious conversation about what they are doing to you mentally.  Try to explain to them that being a diabetic isn't easy to begin with and it is even harder when your friends aren't supportive.  If things don't change it may be time to move on to new best friends.  I know it will be a difficult conversation to have and that it possibly will mark the end of your friendship but I think it is the best and most mature way to handle the situation.

I hope this helps and I understand it's hard but trust me it is even harder to find your way back to a healthy lifestyle once you have strayed from it.

[/quote]

 

Thanks for your reply Danielle, I appreciate your advice and I've taken it to heart. I hope to discuss my diabetes in the near future. Thanks again!!


(Anonymous) #6

Anna,
In response to your idea of simply talking to your friends about it, I am 100% for that idea. It's actually what I just did with my best friend.
It's been quite a bit of controversy in my mind over the years about being able to talk to her about diabetes. It's hard to explain it first of all, and even if you do, there's no guarantee that they will either a) help, or b) care. Which sounds blunt, but I know that before I was diagnosed, I'd offer a sympathetic 'sorry,' but the second the conversation was over, I was done thinking about it. Of course, then it wasn't my problem. However, I still should have been more sensitive and supportive of everything regardless of this.
She's actually been having some medical problems with the bones in her feet, lately. She's going into surgery in the fall. To numb it, she was told she'd have to inject herself with a pain killer. In the heel. Youch. I think that was probably the beginning of being able to find common ground with her about diabetes.
At first, when I heard about this, I (as mean as this sounds) felt a little... justified? That finally I wasn't the only one with problems; I wasn't the only one for once that had to deal with shots, and getting over that fear. Well, then I took a step back. She's my best friend! I wouldn't wish diabetes, or any part of it including shots, on my worst enemy! Let alone her! During one conversation she actually commented she was sure I was "used to" shots by now. Which bugged me, but I can understand that. She may have even been feeling frustrated at me the same time I was bugged by her because here I was, telling her 'they don't hurt so bad' and 'it'll be OK' when she's probably thinking "Crazy kid! She's used to them, she's done them for years! I haven't!" She's right in thinking that (if she was ;)) since I'm sure I was afraid the first time I had to take shots, too.
She was having a rough day this week, and I was talking with her that night about it. (she didn't have to take shots, by the way -- they gave her a different pain killer, kind of a lotion or cream) She'd been really hesitant to discuss it, for whatever reason. And so, taking a really deep breath and launching into the topic before my brain could catch up to my mouth and stop it, I admitted how I'd felt over the years that I couldn't talk to my friends about diabetes. And, surprisingly, she was really understanding. She completely understood! Not empathetically, of course, but as close to it as I want her to ever get. We had a long conversation after I had snuck that into my spiel about how she could talk to be about whatever, whenever, yada yada, no matter what it was about. Made me kind of teary ;) when she returned the promise. And I quote: "By the way, all you said applies to you as well. If you ever need anything just call me and I'll be here to listen.... I'll ALWAYS be here for you." Hm, I thought there was more to that :) Maybe I dreamt it... I'll have to look at it closer later.
Anyway, the point of this really long post is that GO FOR IT! Talk to your friends. Yes, it was awkward. But at the same time, yes it got me in a better place with her. And I wouldn't change a single thing about that conversation; it was all worth it.


(Dylan404) #7

Anna, I think the best thing to do here would be to explain it to your friends. Maybe write down answers to questions they commonly ask so you don't have to come up with a great explanation on the spot. I find if I explain the disease to people they are much more understanding when I have to take a break from the sport we're playing, or why I can't eat the cake, etc. In terms of the people that say things like 'Ew', or 'that is nasty', well to be honest those people really anger me , and I think they can suck it up for what we go through. That being said, I understand if you don't want to be noticed, and maybe you could just go the washroom or nurses office at the beginning of lunch to carry out your test? Honestly, it will get better as you get older, as people mature they become more understanding. At my age I have no problem testing my blood in the middle of a public place with other students around. In terms of going low I really think you have to put diabetes first. I'm sure your friends would understand if they had to wait for you for your blood sugar to go up; they would rather wait then have to deal with you passing out. 

In terms of explaining, these are some things I say to questions I am asked:

-What happens when you go low? why is it bad? - I start to feel dizzy and really hungry. It's bad because I can pass out if it goes to low, so when I do I have to make sure I get sugar and wait for it to come back up before doing anything else.

-what happens when you go high? why is it bad? -I feel tired and thirsty. It's bad because if my sugar is high long term, it can cause damage to blood vessels in parts of my body like my eyes. Not good.

Why do you go high? -There's a few possible reasons. It could be because I didn't give myself enough insulin for the food I ate, or that I didn't give myself enough insulin for the day. If I get stressed that can also make my blood sugar go high

Why do you go low? - there's also a few reasons. I go low when I give myself too much insulin for the food I ate. Physical activity also brings my blood sugar down so that could cause a low

Why do you take insulin? -The pancreas, an organ like the heart or liver in our bodies, normally releases insulin to bring sugar into cells so they can use it for energy. In diabetics, the pancreas doesn't work, so I have to take insulin through the pump so my cells can take in sugar and use it for energy.  

I hope that was helpful

Dylan 


(Anna Marie) #8

Thanks for your support everyone!!!!! It really helped to hear... er... read some of your stories!!!


(diabeticcowgirl) #9

I completely understand.  The thing i started doing was just trying to relate how you feel with highs and lows to something with them.  Like when your BS is high you feel sick, like they would with the Flu, or that when your low you get shaky and weak, as if they hadn't eaten all day.  I also found a new and easy way to explain diabetes in general.  It seems to make it less medical and easier for them to get it.

"Diabetes affects the pancreas.  The pancreas is like a factory and Insulin are the workers.  Our blood is like the conveyor belt, and the insulin takes the sugar from the belt and places it in our cells.  In my body, the workers went on strike, and couldnt come to an agreement with management, so they walked out and the factory shut down."

For those people who tell you to do it somewhere else, just tell them they dont have to watch.  I had a girl in high school tell me that i should have to take my shots in the bathroom cause it digusted her to see me do it.  I told her then dont watch, she didnt eat at my table.  The people who find it gross, just dont understand its not a choice for you.  Point your friends to www.diabetes.org for more information, and just let them know that you dont really like all the questions.  One thing i found helped was I actually brought in extra lancets and test strips one day and tested all their blood sugars too so they knew what it felt like.  Just change the lancet after every person, and record the numbers so you can tell your Dr. those tests weren't yours.   Feel free to keep in contact with me too, I'm working to become a CDE, I have my BS in nutrition and just have to get an internship and start work to get it.


(Nads) #10

Kimberly,

I absolutely LOVE your "factory" explanation!  Even when I talk to my friends about it, people who are in their 40's and 50's for the most part, I have to over-simplify a lot!  If you don't mind, I will be using your explanation from now on!

Good luck with your internship and future career!  I wish you were in my area!  You will be a valuable assset as a CDE some day!


(BrianPQuinn) #11

Kids are cruel. Even those that are our friends. Most of the comments we run into is just typical human nature. Which sucks. I think that is why for the longest time I kept things hidden. However, with my friends then when I talked about it, they tended to ignore it or I just into the bathroom to handle what I needed to do.

Now, I just don't care being in "school" I still run into those that are idiots, some I deal with others I ignore. But the easiest thing to do is to talk it over with people. You would be surprised as to how understanding and open people can be. Not to stereotype things, but girls can sometimes be a little less understanding and over dramatic about things.

A few weeks back I was at a Confirmation meeting with a group of kids. One of the kids on team was talking about his pump and about his infusion site. One of the girls was all like, "eeew gross how can you do that?" Since Doug's current site was on his upper leg he was hard pressed to explain what was going on, so since I was using my side at the time I played show and tell for them, showing the site, how it plugs in, and so on. After that we were able to move on. I mean blood and testing and needles is bound to freak people out and we will get the "gross" and such, but once explained and educated people tend to move on.


(Nads) #12

Diabetes is a complicated illness to explain in just a few words.  I wonder if what we sometimes interpret as ignorance or disinterest or uncaring attitudes is more just a matter of lack of understanding.  I mean, for most of us, it took years to gain the understanding that we have of diabetes - and I, for one, don't yet consider myself to be an expert, even after 35 years!  In fact, that's one of the beauties of this site:  we can learn from one another's experiences!

All in all, as much as it is emotionally difficult for us to deal with others' attitudes, I guess they are, for the most part, understandable...  not always excusable, but understandalbe!

 


(Anna Marie) #13

Wow, you guys all have ideas that I have never even considered before!

 

You are all so inspirational!

 

Thanks tons.