Friday, September 2, 2011

Educating while Vacationing

Our trip to the US had an unexpected twist...educating at almost every stop.  As I have mentioned, Diabetes kicked our butt on many days.  Between carb counting errors, long days driving, and site failures, highs were around more than they were gone. This meant having to explain to people why my son was heading asking to use their washroom before he said hello and why he was drinking a gallon of water while trying to say hello.

Larry would explain to people that my son had Type 1 diabetes and was running high.  They would then ask if he was adhering to his diet and assumed at his age he wasn't.  We would patiently explain that he did not have the strict diet that perhaps someone with Type 2 might have.  He eats in a very healthy manner but is allowed and enjoys certain treats now and then.  We would expand on the fact that as long as he matched insulin to what he ate, he was unrestricted in what went into his mouth.

Getting them to understand that the highs were not "his fault" and he was not a "bad diabetic"  was a challenge.  I quickly realized how society has been groomed to "blame the victim" especially in the case of diabetes.  They see it as a disease where the patient is the problem.  "If they didn't eat this then they would not be sick." "If they exercised more then they would not be in this state."
It was rather disturbing but I hope that we did a good job educating the people that we did come in contact with.  I hope that they will stop before they blame the victim and realize that in many cases there is no blame.  Most of my son's serious highs were because of failures in the tools we were using.  In our case, sites that kinked two minutes after they were inserted. This could not have been avoided...well it was when we quit using stomach sites but we could not know that at the time.  

We also, thankfully, came across people that knew exactly what we were dealing with.  They grasped the challenges despite not living with the disease first hand and were very understanding.

I once looked upon every interaction as a teaching tool. I have been very open about my son's disease and work hard at dispelling myths.  My son, as I have said, is very private.  He does not like people to know about this disease and shys away from questions. This trip, I did not want to educated. I was frustrated that Diabetes would not give us a small break. I did not want to deal with educating the misinformed but that is not the way life goes.  Hopefully we gave people something to think about and a little more information than they had before we stumbled across their paths.

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