When you’re dealing with diabetes every day, it can make a big difference when you have people in your life who are providing you with the love and support you need.
But sometimes that love and support is the wrong kind of love and support. Does that sound familiar? This is the problem of the Diabetes Police. These are your friends, colleagues, and family members who care about you so much that they are going to help you manage your diabetes, whether you like it or not! They may treat you like a knowledgeable and capable human being in all other ways, but when it comes to diabetes, you are viewed as irresponsible, uneducated, or—worst of all—a diabetes criminal. For example, if you had a slice of cake last night, the Diabetes Policeman (or Policewoman) in your life may conclude that you have forgotten about the impact of carbohydrates on diabetes management. And it will be their job (self-appointed, of course) to remind you, “Y’know, you really shouldn’t be eating sweets when you have diabetes!” This can be very, very annoying.
So what can you do? How can you get them to stop being so annoying?
This is tough because these are people who really care about you; therefore, it may be almost impossible to stop them from trying to help. The trick is to redirect their efforts away from actions that are driving you crazy and toward actions that may actually be of some value. So explain to your Diabetes Policeman, in a tactful manner, about the concrete types of support that might be of real help to you.
How do you do this? Thank your Policeman for their concern about your health, explain that their actions are not really so helpful, and let them know that there is a more effective way to help you. For example, rather than yelling at you for overeating again, perhaps your Policeman would be willing to stock the cabinets with healthier snacks or agree to attend a diabetes education class with you. As another illustration, one of my patients explained to his wife that it was most definitely not helpful when she argued with him about hypoglycemia (especially if he was hypoglycemic at the time). Instead, he proposed a new deal: if she thought he was hypoglycemic and in need of assistance, she should just bring him a glass of juice, without making any comments. In exchange, he promised he would check his CGM and if he was in the hypoglycemic range, he would drink it—even if he felt fine.
Turn a negative into a positive.
Making use of your own experiences, think of creative ways in which those Diabetes Policeman in your life could actually be of help. Remember that they are eager to be of assistance, at least in most cases. By giving them constructive tasks to do, you are taking an important step toward weaning them from their Diabetes Police roles.