Bitter melon

My new boss came into my office, closed the door, and gave me a long lecture today, that I should stop using insulin and just use bitter melon. How this has cured everyone else he knows with diabetes. How he's so disappointed in me for still using insulin. (OK he only knows me two months now, and he thinks two months of insulin usage is way too long, I never did tell him I've had T1 for 30 years). How he cares so much for me and hates seeing me being "insulin-dependent" and knows I can do so much better if I just tried.

Wonder how this will unfold. I'm used to getting this sort of advice from random folks or even relatives, but they don't have to sign my timesheet.

As someone else on this site told me before when I was facing a similar predicament: Just tell your boss "You're insulin dependent, why can't I be?"

Seriously, people are ignorant. I'm sorry you have to deal with that in a boss.

Man, that's an uncomfortable situation with a boss. He's not selling bitter melon on the side, is he:) Geesh, disappointed in you! That's one obnoxious & patronizing statement. What did you reply to all this? I would have had a hard time keeping a straight face.

I have a letter from a endocrinologist that explains my T1 condition and all of the supply's, insulin, and testing equipment needed to maintain my health. I have given several individuals a copy in the past and it has eliminated having to explain myself and it also offered me a small amount of protection (from jackasses) in a very hostel very competitive corporate environment...

Good Luck...YMMV

This is just wrong on so many levels. In the end, you could play this lots of ways. But it is probably best to figure out a way for your boss to "get smart" without losing face. You may never be able to "fix stupid," but hopefully you can avoid dangerous human experiments with bitter melon or even worse, the public humiliation of your boss.

It's probably not a bad idea to take notes and/ or request to record any future conversations with this boss? If he's that much of a jerk, perhaps he'd get suckered into agreeing to it with a "your tips are so useful, is it ok if I record this?" approach. If he engages in any discriminatory actions against you, it would be useful to have records.

No, unfortunately you can't fix stupid *sigh*. You're treading a thin line unfortunately. Can you give him a simple article that explains T1, and say you're sure the bitter melon has worked for some but they were prob T2? Education and face saving at the same time?

Unless your situation is impacting your work, your boss should not be asking or providing medical advice. He's on a very slippery slope and putting his company at risk. I would suggest he attend a HR101 class.

I dont know and maybe its just me, and potentially playing a dangerous game but this is why i have ALWAYS kept my D out of the workplace. I and once again this is just me, but I keep it on a need to know basis and my work and co-workers dont NEED to know. Work is a competitive environment and I have seen to many times, people using something against someone to get ahead and what they want. I just dont feel the need to have to explain myself. Just simply Im taking a hour or so to go to the Dr, end of story. They dont NEED to know what Dr Im going to see...they don't need to know if it's that time of the year for a trip to the Gyn, or to the Oncologist or any other Dr I need to go see.

Feel bad for your situation, I guess you have some options, smile and nod and tell him thanks for your concern however you are happy with your management, OR tell him when u get your MD...perhaps I'll come see you for advice. Or just keep records of everything that was said, etc...for your own protection.

I wouldn't say uneducated fool I would just call him uneducated. You boss likely only knows of Type2 and not very much of that. This is a classic example of discrimination against people with T1 get because they believe all PWD are T2. He is using the type of discrimination that T2's get against you.

Like everyone says it's time to educate him. And if he still doesn't get it then it's time to add FOOL back to the description. It might not be a bad idea to gently let him know that your diabetes and it's treatment is none of his business and will not be discussed in the future.

Gary S

Yes, it's quite possible he's barely heard of T1.

I was guilty of a similar assumption - that all adult cases of diabetes are Type 2. I went to high school with a boy with juvenile diabetes who did not survive high school. Probably to help us deal with it, it was conveyed that this was inevitable and typical. So somehow I took from this that T1 people were ALWAYS kids and that they NEVER lived beyond their teens. I looked with disbelief at anyone if they said, "I think he's a Type 1 diabetic" about an adult. "Not likely," I'd say. I was entirely clueless and ignored lots of evidence around me.

I know now this is patently false - now that I have prediabetes. I now understand that adult Type 1s, both those who've grown up with juvenile diabetes and the newly diagnosed, make up a large percentage of adults with diabetes. I've definitely had my world view corrected.

Before, I also had NO clue about the difference - that in one case, your beta cells are all but kaput, actually usually ARE kaput, and in the other, they've got considerably more oomph. Or about all the other, "newer" types of diabetes.

I'm not necessarily recommending this, but...if this happened to me and the boss was truly a friendly-minded one - and he sounds like he may be, just too immature to realize the legal implications of his position - I'd probably hand him a brochure that differentiates the diabetic types and gently correct him. (I have to admit, I've corrected nosy, misguided bosses more than once in my day in this shamelessly sneaky fashion.)

I would say something like:

"Hi! I thought you might find this interesting since you mentioned diabetes the other day. Let's see...Type we go. That's me." [I'd point to the words TYPE 1 on the brochure.] You mentioned bitter melon the other day. Unfortunately, it would have nothing to sink its teeth into with me. And if it did - even if I have a few beta cells that were rallying - using bitter melon would zonk them out completely if its action was to increase insulin production by the pancreas. Kind of like removing the bottom card in one of those houses of cards, you know? [Grin, giggle.]

"Of course, there's a chance it might reduce insulin resistance or act as an insulin mimetic, like many of the other natural supplements that are being investigated. Hey, that reminds me! I'm friends with several Type 2 diabetics - that's the one everyone calls 'adult onset.' THIS kind." [And I'd point to TYPE 2.] So I've learned some things about that kind of diabetic. I wanted to tell you, if you ever get diagnosed with Type 2, you might want to look into fenugreek or cinnamon as well as the bitter melon you mentioned - anecdotal evidence has been pretty promising. But if you do go with bitter melon, you might want to try supplements rather than the vegetable, because some people find it hard to stomach. So...where was I? Oh, you happen to know if bitter melon acts by promoting insulin production?" And then I'd look innocently at him with my techno-babble ringing in his ears.

Typically, such a boss would frown, "Um, I'm not sure. I'll try to find out," And I'd smile and say, "I'd appreciate that - I'm always interested because sometimes I think I know everything about my condition, but I find I'm always learning. I really think it's important to increase diabetes awareness. Did you know a lot of people are unaware that Type 1 even exists?" [Laugh and wrinkle nose.]

I've had good responses with this kind of thing. It's patronizing if you're "in the know", yes, but it's also role-reversal - making him acknowledge who the authority is here. (And your diabetes is YOUR territory, and YOU rule it, not the employer. You ARE the authority.) After having this kind of interaction (not about diabetes, obviously, but other things), I've ALWAYS had bosses and coworkers come away thinking they were best friends with me. It got me through some horrible bosses and was the ONLY way I could maintain any sense of strength when I was working in my "grunt" jobs.

So how did you respond, Tim?

I like this, MountainCat!

LOL love it ;)

Whenever I get annoyed at somebody's ignorance about D I think about how little I myself knew before my diagnosis. But seriously, I don't think this guy's biggest problem is his ignorance about Diabetes. It's his manner of communication with his employees. In a lifetime of organizations I've seen all types, but the most common species of boss, unfortunately has what I call "middle management syndrome". Which can be summed up by "a little power is a dangerous thing". I believe all new managers should be trained in how to communicate and relate to their employees. It always amazes me how even from the point of view of getting more and better work from their employees most managers do the exact wrong thing. Treating people with respect, praising them when they do something well and gently educating them when changes are needed, and knowing what boundaries are appropriate are all useful skills this guy obviously lacks.

But with that in mind, he is your boss, and it takes a light touch. I would let him know you appreciate his concern (even if you really don't! - give him the benefit of the doubt that he meant well!). Then gently explain that most people with diabetes we are likely to come in contact with are Type 2 diabetics and that you have Type 1 which is a completely different thing. Without making him feel like an idiot, tell him how long you've had it, that it takes a lot of work and knowledge, but that yours is well managed. Again, gently and briefly explain why Type 1's don't produce the insulin his body does naturally and would die without it, Etc. Hopefully afterwards he will be climbing all over himself to apologize. If not, and he still thinks bitter melon trumps insulin, do that blank shrug and smile thing we are all so good at and ask him "when the report is due" (or any work-related thing) to re-set the tone of your relationship. Then continue doing what is called "re-directing" him to the work issues when he brings up personal things,answering any personal questions briefly and then moving on.

I agree with AR that you should document this all but illegal intervention on your boss' part. Maybe you could send him an email which in a neutral/friendly way thanks him for suggesting that by taking bitter melon you could stop using insulin but that your medical team insists that you need it to survive. That way there will be documentation saved in a backup somewhere if it's needed.

Good luck. Having a boss at all is sometimes the worst grievance.


Not "all but", this is, in fact illegal. The problem is that the amount of damages would be questionable because the boss is such an imbecile, no one who had diabetes for any length of time, or had access to any basic information, would be expected to do anything else but laugh in his face, unless he's some kind of unbelievable "I'm the boss..."/ Lord Jim/ powertripidiot, which is always a possibility.

If you can't dazzle them with your brilliance then baffle them with your bullcrap. Unfortunately you have to do this with some people.

Gary S

I experience things like this somewhat regularly. Before I act on my impulse to punch and/or strangle the individual, I usually say something like the following:

"I have type 1 diabetes. It is actually an autoimmune disease. For some reason, my immune system attacked the insulin-producing cells in my pancreas when I was a child, and my pancreas can no longer produce the hormone called insulin. I have to take insulin through shots or a pump to survive. Within insulin, you die. In fact, before insulin was discovered in 1922, all type 1 diabetics died within a few weeks or months of developing the condition. The death rate was 100%. Thankfully, we now have insulin to keep us alive. There are no supplements or diets that can change the fact that I have to take insulin shots to stay alive. You may be thinking of type 2 diabetes, which is a different condition. The only way those of us with type 1 can stay alive is with insulin shots or pumps."

Usually, when it is said that way (i.e., very black/white without lots of medical lingo with an emphasis on the whole dying part), folks get it. Of course, then they usually reply with, "Oh, so you have like the bad kind of diabetes." But at least they stop trying to push their bitter melon/cinnamon/paleo diet cure on me!

Thanks for the comments and support, guys! I made the subject line "bitter melon" because I was feeling pretty bitter, I feel a lot better now!

HR won't be able to help me because this guy is a contractor.

I would usually try to "set a good example" by exemplifying my intensive control of bg to the guy but I feel like that's not going to work. In particular he assumed I was only taking insulin once a day (like his deceased relatives who switched to bitter melon) and that I was just recently diagnosed, I think the guy would go into hissy-fit spasms if I told him I'm taking a MDI regime, or that I've been taking insulin for 30 years :-).

I will probably just continue kinda nodding my head as he gives me advice I won't follow. Pretty much the same I do to my relatives who wonder why I'm still taking insulin instead of the cure-of-the-week herb. I hope he doesn't take it the bad way.