Having diabetes often makes a visit to the doctor a dreaded experience, as there is invariably bad news of one kind or another. And sometimes the way the doctor talks to you can leave you feeling like you’re at fault. Or maybe you have a fantastic healthcare team, but have experienced blame and judgement from someone else in your life – friend, loved one, complete stranger. Think about a particularly bad instance, how that person talked to you, the words they used and the conversation you had. Now, the game part. Let’s turn this around. If you could turn that person into a puppet, what would you have them say that would leave you feeling empowered and good about yourself? Let’s help teach people how to support us, rather than blame us!
I never really blamed myself for my diabetes. I had a lot of "Why Me" moments in that first little while, but those where bigger than me. I knew it wasn't my fault; I knew there was nothing I could have done; I knew that the classmates' parents who said "wow, I thought your family ate healthy" was wrong.
I knew that. I know that. It's not my fault.
None of it, overall, is my fault. There is no one to blame except the universe, and the universe doesn't accept blame all that well.
BUT it is tough to remember that there is no one to blame for the specific incidences of diabetes. The lows, the highs, the A1c, the failed site, the irritation and stomachache that comes with fluctuating blood sugars...there is nothing to blame. It just is. This is diabetes, folks.
Sometimes it feels like it is my fault. The high that's been alarming for half an hour? Could have dealt with that sooner. The low alarm that I ignore until I feel it? Definitely could have dealt with that sooner. The days when I don't wear my Dexcom and I do not test nearly as much as I should/usually do? Not the best of times. The times when I prebolus and then don't eat as much as I expected? Saw that one coming. The times (like right now) when I know I need to change my site but I'm putting it off until it's a little bit more convenient? Also preventable.
I could blame myself for these, and much more. Sometimes it actually is my fault. But I cannot take the blame for every incidence because that blame gets really heavy really fast. And diabetes is already heavy enough.
So I don't say it's not my fault. I say this is what I do, and this is how I deal.
When people around me say "what'd you do?!" when I widen my eyes at the glucometer result, I don't answer them. I just get angry. So maybe I didn't bolus right for that snack. So maybe my site is failing and I didn't notice. So maybe diabetes just decided to do its own thing for a while. No matter whether I played a part in the specific incident, it's not my fault. It just is. It is something I have to deal with, and I will, and I will not take the blame for it.
When I first read the prompt for this topic, I thought that this didn't really apply to me. And then I kept thinking. And then I remember the A1cs that I was really proud of, and feeling that punch in the gut when the doctor doesn't congratulate me but says it's too low. And I remember the guilt when they point out tiny specific incidences of things I could have been doing better - even though what I could have been doing better was actually already pretty darn good. And then I remember the heart-wrenching guilt and anger and a thousand other emotions when my endo told me that I was at high risk for anxiety and burnout and depression and that there was nothing I could do about it.
No one gets to take the blame. There is no blame. Diabetes is diabetes, and it is what it is, and the concepts of guilt and blame and "what did I do wrong" shouldn't even be considered. The blame game is just that - a game. But it's like one of those elementary school games where the teacher announces that everybody wins (and then everybody groans). There are no winners, or losers, or blamers, or blamees. This is diabetes. It's not my fault. This is what I do, and this is how I deal.