Diabetes? Do Tell …

I want to thank the many people who responded to last week’s posting** on talking publicly about being diabetic (lots of emails). It is heartening to know that most of you are quite open about your diabetes, at least in your personal lives. (Although I need to keep my eyes peeled in public restrooms –- our No.1 refuge, it seems.)

A number of people were skeptical about “talking” at work, and suggested a “need-to-know” policy to avoid any branding. A few people said it was important to tell your boss, for sure, but not until you’re through interviewing and well established in the job (!)

I even got some sympathy for my “not wanting to DEAL with it” issue: one apparently well-adjusted fellow Type 1 writes: “I completely understand what you mean … so many people know so little about diabetes, and what they do ‘know’ is about their 77 year old aunt with Type 2.” Precisely!

* * *

A quick note of reaction to the new dLife TV show: most of us seem to agree it was boring, and clearly “a drug company/equipment sales pitch from start to finish,” as The Diabetes Blog reader Lance Lavery points out. Disappointed!

(**Publisher’s Note: My March 13 posting “Out of the Closet, or NOT” has also been reprinted with permission on the DiabetesMonitor.com.)


2 Responses

  1. Violet
    Violet March 22, 2005 at 7:19 pm | | Reply

    Hiya Amy. I missed your first post on the work subject, so can I put my thoughts here, where readers might be more likely to see them? :checks nervously for the Blog Police:

    Okay. Seems safe. I’m extremely fortunate to work at a company so progressive (at least in this area) that when a colleague disclosed to management that he has AIDS–that is, the full-blown disease, not only HIV–he received unmitigated support and experienced no negative impact on his career. (Interestingly, this very colleague told me upon learning that I have diabetes that he would rather have his disease than mine–but that’s a tale for another day…) So I haven’t had to deal with the grim possibilities of discrimination that others experience. That must add enormously to the stress of coping with the disease.

    I’m also fortunate in that I have a private office where I can check BG and deal with my pump without retreating to a public restroom. These factors make disclosure a matter of choice. On the whole, I’ve leaned in favor of talking, selectively. For me, not acknowledging my diabetes felt shaming, as though I have something to hide, a defect. I hated that feeling. So when I’m comfortable–and when I have the energy to do the explaining, which is definitely NOT all the time–I do talk about it. I’ve received a range of responses, from empathetic to less so (reference response of AIDS-afflicted colleague above, but hell, who am I to judge?). I’ve found it fascinating to observe what these responses reveal about the people I’m talking with. Diabetes, in this way, is yet another window on the personality.

    I also believe there’s a safety risk in maintaining complete silence about having this disease. Am very grateful that I don’t have to weigh that risk against the risk of possible damage to my career.

  2. Amy Tenderich
    Amy Tenderich March 23, 2005 at 9:43 am | | Reply

    Hey Violet,
    No Blog Police here! Thanks so much for this encouraging report from the trenches. You are one of the FEW and LUCKY to be working for such a progressive company. And you are right, diabetes does give us another window into personalities: our own and others. I’m pretty much still OUT THERE with my diabetes, and the various reactions are always interesting!

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