July 2, 2013
Will Your Family Accept the Diagnosis of Your Diabetes?
The following is the topic for this blog. Will your family accept the diagnosis of your diabetes?
This is one of those topics where it is hard to say this applies or that applies. And it certainly is not one where you can even consider a one-size-fits-all solution. Every family is different and has their own unique family values. In this blog are two such cases and the resulting depression. The dynamics within a family can bring about various actions, some of which are not always pleasant or even desired.
Another family had this happen. The wife had a diagnosis of diabetes and except for her husband, kept this away from the rest of the family. Since the three children were all teenagers, they were not told. The last child had just graduated from high school and was home alone one day when the diabetes clinic called to remind the mother of her appointment the next morning. When the parents arrived home, all three were present and not in a good mood. The first question from one of the children was when she was going to have her legs amputated.
The husband spoke up and said that they would be going with their mother the next day to the appointment and that they could ask their questions then. There was a lot of grumbling, but every time they tried to ask a question, they were told to write them down and ask them the following morning.
The appointment the next morning was very tense as the three children asked question after question and the doctor carefully answered each one with the amputation question given its time. The doctor asked where they had heard this and the youngest daughter said one of her friend's father had his leg amputated. The doctor explained that it was always possible, but very seldom happened to people like their mother who was managing her diabetes very well. He then took time to show them a couple of pictures of sores that caused this to happen. He asked them if they saw anything that looked like these on their mother's legs. He then showed a picture of a foot ulcer and had them look at the bottoms of her feet.
The doctor then told them that in the six years their mother had diabetes, she was having no problems with either. At that statement, the three children sputtered – six years? Their father said that was right and the reason they had been kept in the dark was exactly the reason they were not putting up with the questions that had been raised. They had arranged the call the previous day to have them present at the appointment to have their questions answered.
The doctor answered a few other questions about diabetes and it effects on the body and he said as long as their mother continued to manage her diabetes as well as she had, she would be unlikely to have any of the complications. He informed the children that their mother was managing her diabetes without medications and had been since a few months after her diagnosis. He explained that with the meal plan she was following and the exercise plan she and their father were using, she should be able to stay off medications for many years. He said that could not be promised, but he could say that it was a good chance with the management practiced by their mother.
Then he introduced the CDE and said they would have another hour to ask questions of her. He emphasized that they were being told now and that they were at an age where they should understand and not listen to their friends and what they were being told by them. He concluded by saying that if they used the next hour wisely, they should learn a lot more about diabetes. If afterward, they had more questions he would answer the questions if they would write then down and either drop them by the office, send them in with their parents, or mail them.
As they left the office, they started asking more questions and the CDE asked them to wait until she could turn on the recorder. Then they could ask their questions and she would answer each one until the time ran out and then either the doctor or she would answer any questions remaining and mail the answers to them. The doctor turned to the parents after they left and said now I understand why you would not tell them. They would not have listened to you, but would have believed their friends.
The trip home was more peaceful. The son said he now remembered that the foods had changed and less processed foods were brought into the home, but they had been allowed a few. The oldest daughter remembered the walks that had increased to slow runs and then longer. She said that now she understood why they were never discouraged from joining in, but had not been forced to participate. The youngest daughter now knew she had been set up to receive the information and call the other two.
Yes, every family is different and needs thought in the method used to discuss a diagnosis with them. This blog discusses a study and what the people with diabetes feels his or her family thinks about their diabetes. This blog covers some useful tips for the person with diabetes and how to manage some situations. The final blog I offer is about some of the reasons loving family members can be the worst at assisting good diabetes management.
Hopefully, you have not had any of these problems with family members or if you have just been diagnosed, you will carefully consider how to handle the situation.