Lunch with a Wannabe Shaman

It’s Day 3 of Diabetes Blog Week and Today’s topic is: The Blame Game.

“…Think about a particularly bad instance, how that person talked to you, the words they used and the conversation you had.  Now, the game part.  Let’s turn this around.  If you could turn that person into a puppet, what would you have them say that would leave you feeling empowered and good about yourself?   Let’s help teach people how to support us, rather than blame us!”

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Imagine this.

I’m at a business lunch in Spain. It’s not my business at all but I was invited anyway and I never pass up a ribeye steak. Everything is going as well as well can go despite the fact that the boss is insisting that we take a selfie together and the whole thing feels more like a reenactment of a Mad Men scene than a productive business meeting. And then one of the project managers starts talking about natural healing and how all medical problems are rooted in childhood. He mentions diabetes and asks if we know what it is. This is where I chime in.

“Yes, I’m diabetic.” I tell him.

Judging by the complete quackery of what has been said so far, I feel pretty certain that I will soon have to stop myself from crying or screaming or both. I’m not wrong. He goes on to inform me that my diabetes was caused by a lack of love in my parents’ marriage and that I have the power to cure myself with my mind! During eighteen years with diabetes, I’ve heard a lot of suggestions: eat kale and only kale, just diet and exercise!, pray, do four handstands every morning, only wear cotton, eat cinnamon. This one was by far the worst.

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Since this was three years ago, my Spanish was good but not great. I didn’t have a solid grasp on the language at an academic level but I did my best to respond anyway.

I informed him of a few things:

  1. Before the discovery of insulin in 1922, diabetic children actually withered away and never reached adulthood.
  2. There are numerous documented cases of death in diabetic children whose parents discontinued treatment and opted to pray instead for divine intervention.
  3. My own reality: I have lived with this disease since I was eight years old and it’s not going away anytime soon.

He insisted. He knew the facts, “but all ailments are really just a matter of the mind.” I was struggling not to cover my ears and roll onto the restaurant floor as I told him I didn’t respect what he was saying. The boss corrected me. I didn’t agree with what he was saying, that’s all.

Here’s the thing. Not only did I not respect what he was saying, I found it extremely offensive and irresponsible for someone to suggest that the children who are still dying from this disease today and the adults who are paving the way as the first generation of diabetics who actually reach retirement simply aren’t thinking hard enough. I didn’t respect it three years ago and I certainly don’t now.

The game part of this post is fun but but to be honest I’d probably turn this guy into a puppet and then relegate him to the bottom of the toy chest. Given the chance, I’d go back in time as a slightly-more-eloquent, calmer woman and I’d try to have the conversation again.

My method: I teach when I can and try very hard not to lose my mind.