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“But Diabetes is so Manageable!”

November 18, 2010

Diabetes is manageable. Even people who know nothing about D know that. But what does “manageable” mean? (Hold that thought.)


I got to let a bit of steam out in my last post on the Six Things I wished people knew about diabetes. It was a chance to hang the Hero Hat on the hook for a moment and share some of the harder parts of life with D (are their easier parts?).

And it felt good! I can see the point of that D-Blog Day exercise. We can raise so much awareness about the disease ranting expressing to the world about what we wished they knew. As one blogger points out, wouldn’t it be great if the online D-community wasn’t just writing for other diabetics and caregivers, but actually educating the wider community on the need for D-support?


A comment on my Six Things post from my momma got me thinkin’. It was the part where she wrote:

“When I tell people about your diabetes, the usual response is something like, ‘Oh, but it’s so manageable now,’ and that’s true, but I also need to remind them that it’s a life-long sentence to constant vigilance, constant life-threatening risk.”

Well said, mom, and thanks for sticking up for me.

I’ll be honest: it’s kind of annoying when I get that response – the one of “oh, but it’s so manageable.” It’s hard to know whether to take it as a gesture of assurance or dismissal. Do you mean “cheer up, you can handle it you champ” or “so what? It’s only diabetes.” (To both of which I say: sure, I’d like to see YOU manage it for a day.) Whatever the intent, I hope it doesn’t sound whiny, needy or dramatic of me to suggest this point of etiquette: when responding to the news of someone’s chronic illness, please don’t start your sentence with “but.”

Yes, diabetes is manageable. But what does manageable mean?

In the business world, “management” is a high-ranking job description. People get gradate degrees in “management,” and there are entire university faculties devoted to “management.” Company “managers” work overtime hours, and make big bucks for it. Even in retail, being promoted to “manager” is a big frakkin’ deal.

In the words of Coldplay: “nobody said it was easy.”

Wikipedia defines “management” as “getting people together to accomplish desired goals and objectives efficiently and effectively.” I like that definition. As a diabetic, managing my disease means I have to think, efficiently and effectively, about my objectives and strategically come up with ways of achieving them. That my objectives pretty much get re-set every hour (the average length of time between my blood tests), means my strategies change just as often.

Wikipedia goes on. “Because organizations can be viewed as systems, management can also be defined as human action… to facilitate the production of useful outcomes from a system“. Yes. As a diabetic, my organization “system” is my body. Through a number of different strategies, and with the help of many wonderful gadgets, clinicians, and friends, I do my best to manage positive outcomes from my system. It’s a “human action,” and is subject to both error and emotion.

Diabetes is manageable. But management takes hard work. Perhaps we can afford to give the same respect to diabetes managers as we do to our own bosses and managers at work. That it is manageable does not make it any less of a big deal. It just makes it a full-time job.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Narges permalink
    December 8, 2010 4:13 pm

    Diabetes is actually dangerous! But I think that we have forgotten that because of the ability of modern medicine to help diabetics “manage” it. I’m sure that many people, like myself, do not actually understand how difficult it is. And moreover, that it is actually a lifelong battle. I believe it is hard to hear comments from those around you who do not understand diabetes and results in feeling like belittling of your efforts. Perhaps it would be better if we would say that we don’t understand and try to understand your efforts instead. Keep sharing your thoughts with us, Sarah! Thank you.

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