Saturday, November 7, 2015

That didn't feel great

Generally my convos with my students are pretty awesome, at least the diabetes- related ones. They are so loving, accepting, and genuinely curious that good things usually happen. But when you factor in families, misinformation, and other stuff floating around, sometimes things can be a bit....stickier.

Like last week, when one of my students came in and told me that her sister ate a doughnut for breakfast. And her dad told her, "Maybe you need to go talk to Ms. Gerber about diabetes." And of course it was a joke, and my student was telling me in a lighthearted way. It felt bad to rain on her parade and tell her that her dad had made a mistake. A mistake because nobody's diabetes is a joke, regardless of whether it's autoimmune or not. She was confused, and I'm not sure how much she really absorbed. It was awkward. It didn't feel great.

Or once when I needed to calibrate my CGM in the middle of a reading group, and another student said "Ooooh I hope you don't prick your finger here. I really don't like that." My stern response that I don't really like it either surprised her. That didn't feel great.

I can be harsh on my students, and assertive when it comes to my feelings about diabetes and how their comments and behavior affect me. It's not how I actually am when dealing with other adults, but I think it's important for their future interactions out in the world, whether it's with a PWD or a PW_____ disease, for them to remember that it's a sensitive subject. That people have feelings about their diseases, and that you can't be cavalier. I have a thicker skin than most (working with kids you have to...they will definitely let you know when you've been wearing the same outfit too much or your hair is looking unusually greasy) but I don't want to send the message that people with diabetes have to have thick skin. That just because their pancreas is on the outside, you have a right to comment on it however you want. I want to send the message that curiosity and respect are welcome, but feelings and boundaries must be respected. And sometimes that means shutting students down. And well....that doesn't feel great. 

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