When I was first diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, I was a college student. The entire semester was a blur for me, but I do remember some of the comments and convoluted (though well-intended) advice people offered me. There was the classic “my great-great aunt Martha had diabetes.” The confused “so, no sugar for you, right?” And the incredulous “But you’re not even, um, big…”
What I remember the most, however, was the one professor whose class I had to miss in order to attend a diabetes education class. She was one of those professors who you don’t want to mess with. I tried to casual, confident and in control, explaining that I’d just been diagnosed and I would not be in class that afternoon.
Her jaw dropped and she said, “Oh my – I am so sorry. That’s awful.” Embarrassed, I tried to smile and said, “Oh, no, I’ll be okay – so anyway, I’ll look at notes from other people in class and –“
She still looked stunned. “No, really, Dayle – are you okay? That’s quite bad news, you know.”
Whether I considered it to be bad news or not, I wasn’t ready to hear it then, or from her. Instead, I wanted to focus on catching up on the class I had to miss.
History Repeats Itself
Recently, a friend of mine was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Ready to take the bull by the horns, he asked a few questions and shared pieces of information he’d already learned. At first, I felt tongue-tied. I wasn’t sure what to say.
I didn’t want to say that I was sorry for him (I didn’t like hearing that when my professor said it to me).
I didn’t want to start lecturing him (it’s overwhelming enough and it takes time to let information sink in).
I certainly didn’t want to say congratulations (because, well, that’s just weird).
Despite his recent diagnosis, I know that he’ll be able to adjust to the ups and downs that come with diabetes. I am confident that given time – and despite the bumps we all encounter – he’ll learn as much as he can, take the appropriate actions and make the choices that help him in his health.
I knew all of that the moment he told me about his diagnosis. But still, I didn’t know what to say. What would you have said?