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Hasty Penguin
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(Originally posted on: 04-08-07 07:47:56 PM)
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I find the following atypically angsty of me, so please pardon that, but here it is. It's kind of a self-justification thing, so I guess at the end I'd like to hear opinions on how much of an asshole I am or if I've actually got some rationalization that justifies my actions.

I've been diabetic for fifteen years now. It's not a lot of fun, and more or less, I've learned to suck it up and deal with it. In addition, loads of stories that I love to tell again and again, and some of you have probably read a few of them more than once. Whatever. You take some shots and check your blood. If you ignore your health, it'll bite you later. That's diabetes in a nutshell. You're practically normal, minus daily needles.

Now, several people in my extended family have recently got diabetes (in the past two or three years). However, the most recent is my 21 or 22 year old cousin, who is pretty awesome and at family gatherings (as most of my cousins are 10+ years older), I generally hang out with her, her boyfriend and her older brother.

She got diabetes sometime in the past two or three weeks. I thought "Bogus," and figured that would be the end of it. Not to my dead, who has these weird sentimental moments - almost like a grade nine high school kid who pities their friend or themself looking for sex or something. Only a lot different, kind of.

He decides for some reason, that I should send her a letter saying - OH WAIT! I asked him what it should say. His response? "I don't know. Maybe a word of encouragement."

After a brief argument - largely me wondering what I would say, aside from "Sorry." He is obviously disappointed with me, and I suppose that's natural. He's a business like guy, the formal method is how you approach things. You send messages to say you're sorry when something bad happens because it makes you seem like you're genuinely concerned or that for some reason, they'll think you did something that turned their world around. Thanks for letting me know you pity me! I can just see her enjoying that.

Shortly after, he's on the phone with my aunt. "Yeah, sorry to hear that. It's a tough thing to deal with."

Gee, dad, I'll bet she hadn't guessed that one.

I know my parents went through a lot when I was four and got diagnosed, but guess what, so did I, and I still am. It's a fact of life, and it doesn't make me healthier to have someone tell me they pity me and then walk down the hall to the cancer ward and say the same thing to them.

Which is a relevant thing, because when I was four and took a walk through the hospital, there were four year old kids with leukemia, so by comparison, diabetes is nothing.

And by comparison, what I've been through with low blood sugars, seizures, shocks, literally thousands of needles a year and several near-death experiences, I don't think my parents have much ground on me with the diabetic experience.

Is it a tough time, dad? Tell me all about being diabetic, and all its problems. You seem to know what do to about being diabetic better than I do.

Regardless, I don't want to send her a letter because all it will say is "That sucks that you got diabetes. Good luck, and I'm sure you'll deal with it as well as anyone."

Which feels to me like I'm sending the message "You have diabetes," which I'm sure she already knows and as much as I'm sure she'd love to be reminded of again and again while she's still learning what the hell it is, she probably wouldn't.

At my grandpa's funeral in September, I met my grandpa's cousin for the first time. Her eyes were very uneven as the result of a brain tumour. She started cracking jokes about it. I joined in and then we made fun of my diabetes. That's the best way to deal with this crap. I wish I could see her more often, but at my grandpa's funeral is the only time I've seen her, and I laughed a lot.

Point being that this note sounds like it would just drag her down further into the "it is okay to sit around and pity yourself about this" situation.

So my dad goes on this whole "I think you have some thinking to do if you can't understand why you should send a letter." speech.

"If you got cancer," (he had to use cancer, because I already have diabetes) "wouldn't you want someone else who had it to tell you about it and talk to?"

When I said "No." he said I should do some more thinking.

Well, here's the thought process:

When I was four, and got diagnosed, did I want someone to talk to who had diabetes? No, I just didn't want to have the disease. Well, surprise, surprise, that didn't make it go away, so I learned to deal with it.

The doctors will tell you everything you need to know and then some and provide comfort and whatever else. I didn't want someone to come tell me "You're going to be okay. You'll manage it fine."

Especially after the doctor had already told me the same thing.

I don't want to hear from some veteran germ carrier that you can live comfortably with it, because you honestly can't. You have to work to keep yourself healthy, like everyone else - with a bit of extra needle work. It doesn't help to know that someone else has the same problem, because from what I can see, we're all dealing with it pretty poorly.

So, now at 19, if I got diabetes, I would want to do the same thing. Learn to deal with it and learn to be independent. I injected my own needles when I was four, and generally keep a fairly good watch over my health.

Am I wrong to hold this position that she should deal with it on her own and it doesn't help to hear "It sucks" from someone else who has the same problem? Or am I a huge asshole for not wanting to say "It sucks, but you'll be fine?" when we all know that she will be - as long as she learns to pay very regular attention to her health?
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Reply 1 of 19 (Originally posted on: 04-08-07 07:54:28 PM)
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I don't think you're being a jerk in the matter. Although you may have found it better to deal with diabetes on your own, lots of people have different reactions to it (particularly girls), including many who take comfort in relating with someone else who is enduring the same ordeal. Do I think a letter is appropriate? Eh, it's a pretty formal method of communication. I think an email or a short phone call would suffice. Something to the extent of "Hey, sorry to hear that you were recently diagnosed with diabetes. If you ever want to talk about it/have questions, you can count on me, etc."
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Reply 2 of 19 (Originally posted on: 04-08-07 07:54:40 PM)
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I'm a big fan of encouraging words from others. I think most people are, even if it stating the obvious.
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Reply 3 of 19 (Originally posted on: 04-08-07 08:35:16 PM)
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I don't know, when something bad happens to me I generally prefer that everyone just let it go and not mention it.
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Reply 4 of 19 (Originally posted on: 04-08-07 09:29:42 PM)
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Would a letter stating that you're aware she has diabetes, a 'that sucks' or similar sentiment and then finally 'if you ever want to talk about it or anything else, I'll be here for you' be that hard to write?

It seems to me you're proud of the fact that you got over having your ailment 100% on your own (you probably didn't) and now you're trying to force your rose coloured values on others.
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Reply 5 of 19 (Originally posted on: 04-08-07 11:41:35 PM)
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I think it's vastly different having diabetes or any disease from a very young age to suddenly acquiring it later in life. I mean really, can you even remember a time when you weren't diabetic? (I personally barely remember anything before I was 4-5). Being diabetic has always been a part of your life, and that certainly has factored into how you've been able to adapt to and deal with it.

I don't know, I agree with Zip in that a letter is kind of excessively formal in this day and age, but an email or IM might be nice, just to be like "commiserations." It doesn't have to be pity, and I don't know why you keep going there. Do you think that people pity you? I also think it's a bit weird that you see your dad's empathy as a weakness.

Quoted from Hasty Penguin:

Is it a tough time, dad? Tell me all about being diabetic, and all its problems. You seem to know what do to about being diabetic better than I do.



Yeah that sounds kind of douchey, actually. Most people don't deal with things 100% on your own. You sure did not. When you were four years old, you had a bunch of family members taking care of your wee ass, and somehow I doubt that as growing up, when going through the "seizures, shocks, and... near-death experiences" that you were flying solo, you know?

Point is, you haven't been nearly so independent as you think. Wouldn't kill you to let your cousin know she's not alone. Finally, don't force your coping mechanisms onto other people.
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Reply 6 of 19 (Originally posted on: 04-08-07 11:46:04 PM)
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I'd feel a bit patronizing or just plain gay saying "Hey dude, sorry you have diabetes." I wouldn't be surprised to receive a "Um.. yeah I guess.." It'd get old having everybody basically saying the same things to you. If every family member and friend I had started saying that shit to me, I'd hide in a room.
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Reply 7 of 19 (Originally posted on: 04-09-07 12:05:31 AM)
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It's not like he just has to be all "OH HAY YOU GOT THE DIABETES DOESN'T THAT SUCK LOL." More like a "yeah I heard and that kinda sucks but it isn't really so bad and if you wanna talk about it, let me know."
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Reply 8 of 19 (Originally posted on: 04-09-07 12:06:38 AM)
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Well, obvious answer; just depends on what kind of person she is. If she's one that will think you're fucking stupid, then don't bother and just let things be implied. If she's one that likes to have a little bit of input, go for it. You know your cousin better than us, after all.
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Reply 9 of 19 (Originally posted on: 04-09-07 12:33:39 AM)
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I would call her.

If you're close to her at all, you should at least talk to her about it on the phone, or next time you see her in person. Just tell her that she'll be ok if she plays it smart, and be honest.

DON'T send a letter just because your father wants you to. If you're not going to do something actually heartfelt in this situation, don't do anything at all.
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Reply 10 of 19 (Originally posted on: 04-09-07 12:40:34 AM)
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I agree in that a letter would be stupid and pointless but you should at least bring it up and show a little sympathy for her. Maybe next time you see her unless you rarely see her. Then just send her an email or something.

Quote:
It's not like he just has to be all "OH HAY YOU GOT THE DIABETES DOESN'T THAT SUCK LOL." More like a "yeah I heard and that kinda sucks but it isn't really so bad and if you wanna talk about it, let me know."


I think his point was that having diabetes is pretty bad. I mean a diagnosis is basically telling you you're probably not going to live as long as everybody else.

And, hey, I have hypoglycemia so I, like, uh, sort of feel for you dude. Except for hypoglycemia being like the complete opposite of what you have and me not having the possiblity of serious complications like you do.

For all of my life I've never been able to go more than a couple hours without eating something. If I go more than that I can get lightheaded, weak, dizzy, shaky and pass out. I've only passed out a few times in my life, and they were all recent.

When I was younger and up until I went to jail I just grazed all day on miscellaneous snack food and candy which kept my blood sugar normal. I never really paid attention to the fact that I couldn't go for long periods without eating, I thought it was normal. But once I got to jail I had less of a chance to eat and didn't really think anything of it until I collapsed after playing volleyball. I hadn't eaten in about three to four hours and during the game I got progessively weaker, dizzier and lightheaded. It was like my bottom dropped out.

I had a few more episodes like that while I was in jail, but nothing as severe. I ended up having my blood sugar tested pretty frequently and it always ended up being below 40mg/dl when I felt crappy like that. My fasting blood sugar was consistenly under 65mg/dl which is apparently not good.
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Reply 11 of 19 (Originally posted on: 04-09-07 06:13:33 AM)
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Do you talk to her on any IM program? That'd make things easier. If not, e-mail or phone her. You don't have to remind her of how bad diabetes is, I think the best approach (without knowing her) would be to talk about it in a sort of casual way, and offer expert advice. I don't mean you should play it down, but there's no need to emphasize how much diabetes sucks when talking to her.
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Reply 12 of 19 (Originally posted on: 04-09-07 06:15:23 AM)
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I think the main problem is that his dad is trying to force him to have sentiments that obviously don't exist. For fuck's sake, don't say you're sorry if you're not.
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Reply 13 of 19 (Originally posted on: 04-09-07 06:21:03 AM)
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I've been in similar situations (I'm pretty sure everyone has) where parents make you do things that would basically be insincere when the point of it is the exact opposite of that. You should approach her on your own terms, without parents around (because they just fuck up everything after you turn 14, whether they mean it or not)
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Reply 14 of 19 (Originally posted on: 04-09-07 03:16:40 PM)
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I'm designing my own nanobots to keep shit like this away from me

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Reply 15 of 19 (Originally posted on: 04-09-07 03:49:29 PM)
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Quoted from Surt:
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Reply 16 of 19 (Originally posted on: 04-09-07 04:02:04 PM)
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Quoted from kayte:

I don't know, I agree with Zip in that a letter is kind of excessively formal in this day and age, but an email or IM might be nice, just to be like "commiserations." It doesn't have to be pity, and I don't know why you keep going there. Do you think that people pity you?


I'm not under the impression that people pity me - I'm a very fortunate person. I meant the whole "sorry" bit. Saying you feel sorry for someone is pitying them, from my perspective. That's pretty much how any beginning to a letter talking about her having diabetes would start with. I don't know what else I would have to say aside from "Now you're one of us!" Because odds are, so much has changed in the past few years that she'll know more about diabetes than I will in a couple weeks.

Quoted from kayte:
Yeah that sounds kind of douchey, actually. Most people don't deal with things 100% on your own. You sure did not. When you were four years old, you had a bunch of family members taking care of your wee ass, and somehow I doubt that as growing up, when going through the "seizures, shocks, and... near-death experiences" that you were flying solo, you know?

Point is, you haven't been nearly so independent as you think. Wouldn't kill you to let your cousin know she's not alone. Finally, don't force your coping mechanisms onto other people.


I could argue this to a fair extent, but this is close enough to being right. This has nothing to do with forcing absurd values on her. Other people in the family have diabetes too, and I think she's well aware of that. It's not like we're conspiring against her.

Quoted from Baggy_Brad:
Would a letter stating that you're aware she has diabetes, a 'that sucks' or similar sentiment and then finally 'if you ever want to talk about it or anything else, I'll be here for you' be that hard to write?


Quoted from awkward jimmy:
I think the main problem is that his dad is trying to force him to have sentiments that obviously don't exist. For fuck's sake, don't say you're sorry if you're not.


Sums this up perfectly. No, it wouldn't be hard to write, but in all honesty, I see her four or five times a year and I don't really want to talk to her about it, selfish as that is. It also comes off as bland and stupid, to me, to say "I'm here for you if you need anything." Which is the general sentiment of the other half of the message after "Sucks, dude."

The truth is, I'll probably end up sending an email or something, but it just seems awkward, as I'm more or less being forced into the situation where I don't think I belong.
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Reply 17 of 19 (Originally posted on: 04-09-07 06:10:47 PM)
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I wouldn't send her a letter. I would just let her know that you hope for the best and you're there to support her if she needs it.
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Reply 18 of 19 (Originally posted on: 04-09-07 06:59:38 PM)
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Quoted from Hasty Penguin:

Quoted from Baggy_Brad:
Would a letter stating that you're aware she has diabetes, a 'that sucks' or similar sentiment and then finally 'if you ever want to talk about it or anything else, I'll be here for you' be that hard to write?


Quoted from awkward jimmy:
I think the main problem is that his dad is trying to force him to have sentiments that obviously don't exist. For fuck's sake, don't say you're sorry if you're not.


Sums this up perfectly. No, it wouldn't be hard to write, but in all honesty, I see her four or five times a year and I don't really want to talk to her about it, selfish as that is. It also comes off as bland and stupid, to me, to say "I'm here for you if you need anything." Which is the general sentiment of the other half of the message after "Sucks, dude."

The truth is, I'll probably end up sending an email or something, but it just seems awkward, as I'm more or less being forced into the situation where I don't think I belong.


You are going to have a long and painful life if you ever follow in your dad's footsteps and get a corporate job. They are nothing but sending emails that don't reflect your true feelings to people you don't care about.
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Reply 19 of 19 (Originally posted on: 04-09-07 08:13:55 PM)
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Just pull a Pat Robertson and tell her that diabetes is God's punishment for being overweight, consumerist, and potentially a fag.
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