Diabetics who just don't care enough

You’ve heard me talk about my friends who are diabetics but just don’t take care of themselves. For the sake of conversation, I am wondering what do you think is the key to your taking care of yourself…doing what needs to be done? Why do you think there are so many people who don’t take care of their diabetes; who don’t even want to know they have diabetes; and if they do, just don’t give a darn?

I think it’s the idea that their lives will not be their own if they give in to treatment, even at their own hands. I don’t think they’ve been taught or realized that the control of the disease is in their hands — not the docs, nurses, friends or family’s. I think part of the reason is fear, the media and professionals have made this disease a kind of leperosy thing…“you did it to yourself”…so its’ better not to know, that to be in control and knowing how to take care of yourself.

What do you think?

Because diabetes doesn’t hurt, that’s why. It hurts more to take care of yourself.


Because it’s hard as crap, and people are not perfect.

Conversations like this one always remind me of one of my favorite all-time posts from SixUntilMe.

Behold: http://sixuntilme.com/blog2/2009/08/things_i_wouldnt_say_if_i_were.html

My key to taking care of myself? I get paid $1 million to do it. Oh, wait, that is only my fantasy :slight_smile:

The real key: Because I can.

As much as I hate the dozens of daily decisions and actions, the cost, the fear of complications, the misunderstandings, I have gained in strength and resolve because of this unwanted disease.

I do agree that lack of information, lack of positive reinforcement for self-care, and lack of community, as well as the biggy—lack of funds—are major reasons many people feel helpless. I don’t blame them. After all, I’ve had 36 years to come to terms with my diabetes. I just hope that having a community like tudiabetes helps others come to terms in a shorter amount of time.

Coming to terms doesn’t mean we have to like diabetes. Doesn’t get rid of the anger. Doesn’t get rid of the frustration. But it does free up room for the rest of life. Diabetes is part of who I am, but it’s not the only part.

I kind of think that this is the wrong place to find the reasons you’re looking for because the people on Tudiabetes are either already highly motivated or want to become so for whatever reason.

I’m T1 and I’ve lived with it for more years than I have without. In fact, I really can’t remember my life before diabetes. Perhaps if you’re a 12-year old who is diagnosed with T1, you have to grow up quickly – whether you realise it or not at the time – because you have to face a serious medical condition the like of which most people don’t have to deal with until they reach a much older age. That’s not to say that all T1s are “perfectly angelic diabetics”, but from my experience and perspective it seems to me that T2s are less concerned about the disease and may very well classify it as just another sign of getting older. And why not? They can probably look back on many years of life when they didn’t have any serious medical conditions to bear in mind each and every day.

LOL! Take it serious and then laugh it off.
I’ve been on both sides of it. I’ve tried to deny and now I work to enjoy life.
Diabetes is just a “by the book, no nonsense, contradictory” adjustment to whatever I want to do. Follow the rules and then find something to care about,laugh and cry with.
I hate sticking myself and coming up with a number that says I didn’t do good enough.
That was my reason for denial and “who cares” attitude.
Then, following the rules isn’t any easier. I still stick myself and come up with a failure number once in the while.(well honestly… more than once in the while.)
Understanding that diabetes is fickle has helped me a lot. ( cuz I’m fickle too!)
I now have come to the conclusion that the best I can do is not always going to bring me to that perfect number.
Diabetes is about growing up even more from within. (I’m not one to talk… sigh… I’m still growing along with 10,000 others here in Tu.)

Boy Steven, the T2’s that I know are very much concerned — not the people I am talking about here — but the others who are taking care of themselves, doing what their docs tell them, taking the sacrifices they have to take, and working very hard at helping make a cure or at least an easier way to handle diabetes T1 or T2. I have a very hard time with the distinctions made by diabetics, like this is harder for T1’s than T2’s. Who says that, hard is relative to who you are and what you have been through. I think we really have to/MUST combine together to push for helping ourselves, and the public to be aware of diabetes in general…and then the different types. It’s not T1’s VS T2’s…it’s diabetics.

What a great attitude, MeadowLark. Thanks for sharing that. Rotten numbers, only show us what and where we may have to improve. Good numbers show us that we have found a secret that works for us that day…who knows what tomorrow brings? If we did the same things two days in a row, the numbers could be totally different, and then are we failures, nope, we are just people who are living with diabetes.

Invisible Illness blogshpere postings from a week or two ago addressed the issue that other people can’t see our illnesses. With the fact that the complications of blindness, organ failure, amputation may be so far away in the future from this particular moment, I wonder how often D is invisible to ourselves as well as others

I’m confused. In your opening post you talk about your friends who aren’t concerned and then here you say that the T2s you know are very much concerned.

Sad to say that my experience of T2s is like yours as you say in the opening post. The T2s I know or have come across aren’t particularly bothered (or at least don’t appear to be) or full of determination to “help themselves”, so to speak.

Stephen, in a D group that I belong to there are 12 current members, each of those people are very well intune with their diabetes. They are all T2’s…that’s what the group is for at this point. The T1’s have a group of their own and we do meet together once a month. The people my original post was about are three friends of mine, we are very close friends, however, I am feeling like their mother and the underdog at that. They just don’t care about treating, updating themselves, being their own drivers of their health care buses, they just simply don’t believe that any bad thing will ever happen to them concerning their D.
I am frustrated, because I am working on this minute by minute every day…making decisions, pricking my finger, exercising, etc., and then they say things like “Oh, well, if I let it go long enough, I’ll be on insulin, and I can eat what I want to eat”…HUH? That doesn’t work for me, that’s just simply wrong.

My original question was my frustrations and wondered if others had friends or family or acquaintances like this. The followup information was just that followup.

You are oh so correct. I don’t know about being invisible to ourselves individually, but I can relate to being invisible to fellow diabetics…I am also disabled in I have severe arthritis, and a variety of emotional things going on…because you can’t see my arthritis or my emotional issues, many people think I am faking a disability. They think my diabetes is my only disability, which it is not even a disability for me at this point. We need to accept each other whether we are a type I, II 1.5 or gestational or juvenile and work for more than just the labels. But that’s my opinion.

Are you writing sarcastically? I hope so. And for those reading who aren’t sure, Joseph’s answer over simplifies two very complex and different diseases (type 1 and type 2–I’m only gonna address the major forms).

Type 2 is NOT just about overweight/obesity and food. At least two things are going on: insulin resistance (obesity, inflammation, genetics, lack of fiber, overload of nutrient-poor carbs, overload of saturated fat, lack of activity–and more we don’t yet know–are some of the culprits there) and dwindling supply of the body’s own insulin (beta cells poop out after over-producing to meet the needs of the insulin resistance) and gut hormones (incretin). Most people diagnosed with type 2 have fewer than half their beta cells still functioning. Which means at least one type of med–not just diet and physical activity–should be prescribed to lower blood glucose (see ADA standards of care) as well as treatment for the typically accompanying high blood pressure and abnormal blood lipids. Not so easy to keep all the meds, foods, portions, weight loss, physical activity, testing, etc., spinning. And it’s documented that long-term type 2 that has gone for years without control is more difficult and takes more meds to treat.

True, changes in diet and the oft-overlooked physical activity can help many people with elevated blood glucose levels (not yet at diabete range) delay or prevent type 2. But given genetics and aging and unknown environmental factors, lifestyle changes don’t help everyone and eventually are not enough.

Type 1, in some ways, is simpler. Auto-immune response that kills insulin-secreting cells and shuts down gut hormones (incretins). Of course, insulin, other meds, diet, portions, exercise, yada-yada, also must be juggled.

Kinda cool that those of us with two completely different diseases have so much to relate and share. And can continue to strive together to reach and maintain on-target blood sugars and other health measures.

But diabetes is not rocket science? Well, I beg to differ. We have rockets. We don’t have cures or simple treatments for diabetes.

Joseph, I am going to take that quite personally right now. The blame is NOT always on the patient. There are many reasons for being overweight, and eating too much or not the right foods is not always the reason. That’s like saying the majority of diabetics have red hair, thus if you have red hair, you will be a diabetic. And watching the news can either give you good info, or bad info…depends on the report. I’d rather get my info from people like Tudiabetes, or from my docs. And for some people who don’t understand and have a hard time understanding it IS just that rocket science. Now I’m done with the personal stuff. I hope you will re read your post and reconsider some of the harm and hurt you have caused me and maybe others.

I would think some people are in the denial stage of the disease and that is why they dont do a good job at taking care of themselves. As a T2 sometimes you dont feel the effects. Some people live with BG’s around the 200’s to 250’s which really dont knock you out but are doing slow damage. I think those people are like smokers. The thought is that if nothing feels bad, nothing must be bad. Plus I think its hard to follow the suggested lifestyle an changes. Plus I think a motivator has to be in place to want to do good with health related issues, for instance family. I am motivated to take care of myself because I want to see my kid out of school and married one day. And the last, i think some people just dont care.

I think you have hit my friend’s attitude right on the nail. Neither of them care enough to want to give up the foods they enjoy, the time spent resting on the couch, or the head power to figure out what they have to do. My problem in this is the position they have put me in as the “queen of D”…I am definitely NOT that, but have seen my parents die, have seen my grandmother die of D complications. they are pretty. And like you I want to see my kids married and meet my grandchildren when they come. These women don’t seem to care enough about those things to do something about their D, and I guess I quit worrying about them, and worry more about me. Good points.

I also have friends with diabetes who don’t manage their blood sugar as well as I think they should. I put that in bold on purpose. We on TuDiabetes are highly motivated people who have come to be very committed to learning and doing everything we can for our diabetes, whatever type it is. Not everyone is there and not everyone is there yet. It might be going too far, Cathy to say your friends don’t care enough about those things (wanting to see their kids married and grandkids). They probably care as much about those things as any other mom. They are just in denial and/or making different choices.

We all, at different stages in our lives have made different choices for ourselves, some good, some that looked good at the time, and some we knew damn well were awful. I know I certainly have. I wasn’t diagnosed until age 58. I shudder to think what would have happened to me if I’d been diagnosed in my teens when I was hell-bent on self-destruction. I doubt I’d be here today. For me, too, acceptance of my diabetes and what it means in terms of self management has been in stages. Denial is a very common human response to catastrophic news, and though we forget it in the day to day, being diagnosed with diabetes is catastrophic news. The human tendency to go butt up, head in sand and say “You can’t get me now, nahhhhh, nahhhh, nahhhh” is very ingrained for some of us, while others get out their guns, their bullets and their laptops and say, “Ok, I’m not going to let this thing beat me let me at it!” We’re all different. And yes, as someone else said, diabetes is an invisible disease, out of sight out of mind. When something hurts we do something, and often stop when it stops hurting.

All we can do is continue to role model. I have two friends, one of whom is newly diagnosed diabetic, one I think pre-diabetic. The first one was my house guest for five days. I gave her my old meter and suggested I would teach her to test. She sat and watched while I tested (barely watched, she was wincing!) but somehow there was never time during her stay to do hers. I’ll bring it up again when we talk on skype and suggest walking her through it. But I fed her healthy food and she loved it and asked for recipes. The other friend yesterday told me she had bought a meter (yay!). One day she accidentally cut her leg and when it bled she figured to take advantage of the opportunity. She grabbed a test strip, stuck it in the blood, waited until the blood dried and then put it in the meter and of course got an error message. Good intentions! I explained the correct way to do it. Poco a poco as we say in Spanish, little by little.

Zoe, Yes, I can only hope that they will have an epiphany and come to embrace that this is their life now. Like it nor not. They don’t have to love it, they don’t even have to do what I do. As I said, what I am most frustrated with are two things 1. They put me up as an example, and not in a good light, but in someone to be teased about it, although they say it’s all in fun. 2. That they have the same opportunities as I to be a “queen” of the big D; and don’t take advantage of the opportunities given them. They have said, THEY DON’T CARE. They’ll get a pump or be put on insulin, and then everything will be okay…their words not mine.

If they do something, fine, if they don’t fine, but it’s not up to me to make it right for them. They have all the tools, now they have to use them. Don’t put me up as your bright and shining star of excellence, because I am no where near that.

One of the reasons to neglect the disease is stress. It is very stressful to deal with all the advice sometimes very contracditory. Low carb high fat vs high carb low fat gives me nightmares. Testing blood glucose can be very depressing at times when it hovers around 200 and nothing you do will lower it. Plus it highlights our inevitable mortality 8 times a day a real life spoiler. Guessing the amount of insulin is stressful. Highs are not fun and lows even worst. Plus it is not helpful that everyone tells you that you have no control over your hunger which is absolutely true. A diabetic told me he had lost 65 lb and I said wonderful will power, he replied: Hell no, metformin did it all. . It is no doubt not as bad as being paraplegic but it is always there 24/365 no vacation no breaks.

Notwithstanding (a favorite canadian term) the psychological aspects I think it is still best to be extremely proactive in the fight against the disease. There is very little that the Family, doctors, nurses and educators can do for you.

Anthony, I think on some things you are right, having diabetes CAN BE stressful, when you know there is something you should be doing, yet you don’t do it — why? It is not a simple thing, yet it is. You find yourself a team, a very good team, whom you can work with and have that control. You decide what you are willing to do and what you will have to work on. I had been asked to do testing 6 times a day, I knew I wouldn’t do that…too much work. I would do it three times and work up to 6…I’m on four now and that is after five years of working up to it. Was it easy, no, it wasn’t. Was it necessary to achieve health, yes. I was told that I had to eat a lo carb diet, after being a successful WW for years…that was hard, check my posts here…but I have done that. I don’t like it, but am finding that it isn’t that much different than WW in journaling, eating more vegetables and a little less fruit, more protein, etc.

My thoughts are that I learned a mantra many years ago, “make the healthiest choices possible for me in every situation and at all times. These choices may not be the BEST choices, they are my choices. They may not be the choices that you make, but they are the healthiest ones I can make for myself at this time”

I believe that people who won’t take care of themselves are living in fear, denial and maybe under the right circumstances mis education. We can help point them in the right directions, but they make the choices, they decide what is best for them, and what they can do. What I have shared with one of the women I spoke of, it to make a choice of ONE thing she can do…don’t try to do it all at once…she hasn’t made that decision yet, but I think she will. She has a lot, I mean a ton, of mis education, to sort through. After that, she makes the healthiest choices possible for herself, even if I don’t like them.