My boyfriend Dave had to calm me down over the weekend after I’d had another “at least diabetes is manageable” conversation. I had an appointment with my ophthalmologist, who I hadn’t seen in more than a year, and had to fill him in on my diagnosis. He replied by saying diabetes is easily manageable and he’s sure I won’t even have to think about it once I have it under control (another D-related word that irks me).
I know he meant well, and was trying to be encouraging, but the conversation frustrated me. I told him that I agree and am glad that diabetes is manageable, but I’m afraid it’s something I have to think about every day. (It’s hard to estimate the carb content of everything you consume and prick your finger multiple times a day without thinking about the damn disease.) The dialogue ended there.
I’ve found myself in many similar conversations (including ones where people have told me I’m “lucky” to have a manageable disease). I know that most people are trying to offer support and show that they care, and I don’t want to dismiss that. I really do appreciate support. I think the part that bothers me is that by saying something like “at least diabetes is manageable,” the conversation is often halted and I’m left feeling like the other person doesn’t want to hear more.
As I vented to Dave later that night, he very maturely nudged me to understand the perspective of my ophthalmologist. He was probably surprised and didn’t know what to say, so he offered up something that he felt was reassuring. Dave reminded me that all of us have been in difficult situations where we grasp to be empathetic and say the right thing. I wholeheartedly agree with his point and know that I’ve said the wrong thing plenty of times. But I still can’t dismiss the way “manageable” conversations make me feel.
I guess I don’t entirely know what I hope to get out of similar conversations. I know I don’t want pity, but think sometimes I just need someone to acknowledge that diabetes just plain sucks – even if it is manageable.