In A Nutshell

We've all had this experience.  Maybe it's with a new aquaintance at playgroup or at a little league game.  It could be a curious bystander at the gym or the office.  Perhaps it happens when running into an old friend at a party, or a long-lost relative over the holidays.  Whatever the circumstances, this person wants to know about your, or your loved one's, diabetes.

"How's she doing with that?"

"Is it under control?"

"What's that like to deal with?"

How to answer these well-meaning questions?  Ideally, the asker will come away more knowledgeable about Type 1 Diabetes.  The asker will feel compassion for you and/or your child. The asker will understand how un-simple these seemingly simple questions are.

Sometimes circumstances require a quick answer.  My stock response is a variation on this theme: "It isn't easy.  Every day is a little different. We have to work hard at it, but she's usually good about everything and we keep up with it all as best we can."  Vague?  Very.  Yet it clarifies that, no, it's never 'under control,' it's a daily challenge to 'deal with,' but that we're 'doing' o.k. with it all.

Sometimes this ends the conversation, particularly with complete strangers or very new aquaintances.  More often there is a specific follow-up question.  Common ones include:

How often does she have to check her blood sugar?

Are there things she can't eat?

Does she have to wear the insulin pump all the time?

Somehow I'm never prepared for how surprised people are by my answers.  That my daughter pricks her finger at least eight times every day and that we must do complicated math problems for every meal are just part of our reality.  Of course we get up every night to keep track of her blood sugar.  Yes she does indeed have to visit the school nurse's office at least twice a day.

As much as I'd like to, it always seems too much to lead with these little bits of our reality.  They certainly give a much clearer picture of what our days are like, but they're hard to consolidate into a quick, simple answer.

I'm often left wondering how others answer these questions.  Feel free to comment if you have a way you've found to sum up your 24/7 diabetes life in a nice little nutshell.


  1. It's always so tough to answer those general questions, isn't it? I think my typical answer is pretty close to yours - I say something about each day being its own day, etc.

  2. We are pretty new on the journey so I'm not sure of the responses yet. I think the attitude conveys more than the words sometimes. I was very defensive at first, because we were so shocked by my son's diagnosis, that of course people didn't listen to me. Now I can do better - I hope.


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