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Insensitive People

Discussion in 'Parents of Children with Type 1' started by Junosmom, Nov 15, 2013.

  1. Junosmom

    Junosmom Approved members

    Oct 21, 2013
    My son is 11 yo, newly diagnosed 9/18/13. I need to learn to handle insensitive comments about diabetes in front of my son, teach him to handle. I know it will happen again.

    Yesterday was the second time. We went to our pharmacy to pick up a prescription for strips. Pharmacy employee asks son, standing by me, "Are these for you?" Son is asked twice (he doesn't want to talk about "it") and he finally nods as I also say yes, for him.

    She then proceeds to tell me about her relative who is T1D and not treating, and all the things that are now happening to him (can't feel his feet and hands, might lose a limb, etc) and is going on and on. Son's eyes widening. I hastily (seeing where she was going) said, "Well, you'd better get him to a doctor. Goodbye." and ushered my son away. I guess I expect more from a pharmacy employee. And, I'm not sure why this was relevant to us, or why we'd want to hear her personal story, given I've never met her in my life.

    I think we did okay, but would like to say something that makes the person think of what they're saying in front of my child without belittling him/her or being mean. I know they are just not thinking.

    As background, my son does know there are complications from not managing diabetes, but I don't belabor them. He is compliant right now, and if I can shield him a little from the possible complications, I will. He will come to know soon enough, and he shouldn't have this on his shoulders right now.
    I know I can't shield him forever, but if I'm standing there, I sure will.

    What do you do in such situations?

    Mom to Wm, 11 yo, dx 9/18/13
  2. danismom79

    danismom79 Approved members

    Apr 21, 2008
    Well, in that situation, I would have cut the person off mid-sentence and asked if they really thought it was a good idea to say that in front of my kid. Some people are just clueless and need to be handled in a direct manner.

    In general, I don't give any more information than necessary. There are people who don't mind trying to educate and get into conversations with total strangers at the store or wherever. But I'm not one of those people. I have no problem saying some form of "none of your business" (sometimes, exactly those words) if asked about my child's diabetes. Which almost never happens, because no one knows she has it unless we say something about it.
  3. Christopher

    Christopher Approved members

    Nov 20, 2007
    I would be very mad. I would go back without my child and speak to the person and let them know that what they did was inappropriate and not to ever speak to my child like that again. Furthermore, I would then ask to speak to their supervisor and would inform them that I thought the actions of the employee were inappropriate and that you wanted them to know what their employee was doing.
  4. Sarah Maddie's Mom

    Sarah Maddie's Mom Approved members

    Sep 23, 2007
    Sometimes you just have to be rude for the sake of your kid. It would have been appropriate to cut this person off the moment the asked if the prescription was for your son.

    I would also go back, as Christopher suggests, and inform her that henceforth she is not to speak to your child. Period.
  5. nanhsot

    nanhsot Approved members

    Feb 20, 2010
    Yep, this. I expect it from the grocery store checkout lady or whatever, the "oh, my grandpa lost his leg from sugar diabetes" (be prepared for that one!). In that situation I can always explain to my son that she's talking about T2 and those folks are often undiagnosed, etc, so I can go back and educate my son.

    But a pharmacy employee? That would have me truly seething. I'm sure in some strange part of her mind she THOUGHT she was educating, so benefit of a doubt here and I would feel a need to go back to that pharmacy and set up an appointment with her and her supervisor and educate THEM on how inappropriate and hurtful this was to your newly diagnosed son.

    My son, as an older teen and 4 years down this road, would have shrugged this off. But no matter how you look at it it was insensitive and people working in that business need to do better.

    Now, as advice for the future, prepare and educate your son now. You will hear more horror stories, most of them about an old uncle or whatever, who lost toes or kidneys or is blind. Usually T2. My approach has been one of educating my son and preparing him. If it ever seems appropriate I will interject with "my son has a different kind of diabetes" but I doubt it really changes anything so mostly I prepare my son.
  6. ksartain

    ksartain Approved members

    Dec 21, 2012
    This. We make a point to stop the person, speak directly and loudly enough to Christopher that the person can hear and say something like, "Don't worry sweetie. We are going to make sure that doesn't happen to you."

    We were at Dairy Queen one day for a rare ice cream treat and the manager, having absolutely no idea that Chris has T1D, was joking around and told Chris that he couldn't have any ice cream today. Chris burst into tears. I glared at the manager and explained that Chris has T1D and is quite sensitive to the fact that many people (not us) tell him he can't eat certain things and maybe he should not joke like that with someone without knowing the person a little better. The manager felt horrible and paid for Christopher's ice cream. But still. It took quite a while to calm Chris down.
  7. susanlindstrom16

    susanlindstrom16 Approved members

    Nov 29, 2012
    I think you have every right to expect more from a pharmacy employee. In fact, any adult with half a brain should know not to talk about diabetic complications if a child known to have diabetes is within listening range. I mean, come on.

    Last year, a few months after dx we were at a bbq and one of my coworkers wives, after seeing me give my daughter a shot, said "My cousin had that. She didn't take care of it and was a double amputee that died at the age of 52." I was aghast but my daughter wasn't paying attention and I don't think she knows what "amputee" means, thank God. Sorry your son had to hear stuff like that.
  8. GChick

    GChick Approved members

    Nov 9, 2013
    Insensitive? Absolutely!

    Misunderstood? Possibly.

    I'm gonna take a chance at inserting my foot in my mouth here, but... from my perspective (which is not one of a parent), the person was probably trying to "help" more so than hurt. They may know enough to know that control is key... and as such, hope that telling stories of what happens when people don't bother to try to control things, might "scare 'em straight" (as if even when you ~do~ try things should always work out right? Ha!) so to speak.

    Is it the wrong tact to take when talking to an unknown child... absolutely, but in the end, ~most~ people who are insensitive in that way, are in their own (mistaken) way, trying to "help".

    If you found it troubling, then yes, talk to them... but don't necessarily jeopardise their job for it on a first offence by going to their manager.
  9. KatieSue

    KatieSue Approved members

    Oct 5, 2010
    People don't just do it with diabetes. If you're pregnant they all want to tell you horror birth or miscarriage stories. I have no idea why people seem to think you'd want to know these kinds of things but they do.

    Depending on her mood my daughter will either ignore or make snarky remarks back, but she's older. And honestly, knock on wood, we haven't gotten a lot of it.
  10. Marcia

    Marcia Approved members

    Feb 22, 2007
    I had the talk with my daughter when she was older about ignoring people and their advice and what was on Dr. Oz, etc. Before D came in to our family, we didn't know anything about it. The supervisor at the pharmacy should be made aware, but chances are the person who waited on you and your son was not a trained professional. It is not rude to cut someone off mid sentence, especially when it is a sensitive subject.
  11. missmakaliasmomma

    missmakaliasmomma Approved members

    May 31, 2013
    I like to think that people don't make these rude comments maliciously. I didn't know anything about t1d before my daughter was dxd so I thought of all the bad things associated with t2, just like a lot of uninformed people. With that being said, I don't really take offense to what anyone says, I just think to myself "they have no idea" You can take this time to educate people instead of getting mad. The majority just really have no idea. My dad still asks me (mind you- 4 years post dx) if insulin brings your sugar up or down, I still love him lol
  12. wilf

    wilf Approved members

    Aug 27, 2007
    There is no excuse for this, from someone working in a pharmacy. None. I would complain to management.
  13. SarahKelly

    SarahKelly Approved members

    Nov 14, 2009
    My niece had to have her leg amputated at birth and due to her quite obvious difference (her prosthetic is covered in beautiful butterflies and sunshines) my sister-in-law has heard countless advice, questions, remarks and comments. Sadly, the vast majority of them are rude, even from some trained medical professionals. At first she tried to conquer the world and educate everyone, then she realized this was making her daughter more uncomfortable. So instead of working on others she reminded her daughter that this is one part of being a strong person, hearing hurtful things and assuming that the other person wasn't being mean but didn't realize they weren't being helpful either. If the occurrence is an outright mean spirited occurrence, yes she does step up and say something, but if it was a story or something said with the desire to help she just moves on. She told me how much this helped her to stop feeling overwhelmed by going to normal places and worrying about what to respond to next.
    She reminded me that others say these things because they want reassurance that they, or their loved ones, won't have the same thing occur to them.
    This last bit was the most helpful for me when people ask, "does it run in your family?" Because, for us yes t1d does, but no that doesn't make it any easier.
    Anyhow, I think you have to decide if this is something you want to choose to utilize your time to help prevent from happening to others or if it is something to just move on from.
    Many people are insensitive, or just out right stupid, but we can't fix them all.
    I am sorry you had to hear this horrible story, it doesn't make you or him feel any better.
  14. Junosmom

    Junosmom Approved members

    Oct 21, 2013
    Thank you for all the replies. Here are some of my thoughts after reading them:

    I don't think she was mean spirited, just thoughtless. I know she was likely just a cashier, not a trained pharmacist, but I do expect pharmacy employees to have a higher degree of sensitivity due to the nature of their job. I don't want her to lose the job, just learn to do it better.

    Partly, I posted to get it out - so thank you for listening. I try to compliment store employees more than I complain. I work retail, and I know that employees are more likely to hear complaints than compliments. Yet, I needed to think about this because she might do the same to other customers.

    I wanted to think about how to handle it in the future. Such thoughtlessness will happen again, and I want to have a plan that won't necessarily educate the world, but at least protect my son. I know you've all been in this situation.

    I think I'm going to try this: The next time someone starts in with a "story", I'm just going to say, "STOP". And then just get out of there. I don't have to be polite. And, I will continue to talk to my son about what he will likely be hearing as time goes on.

    I am considering talking to the pharmacy, but in a general nature, as we've had another incident prior and so they have some training to do.

    Certainly, this makes me more aware of my own words to other.

    Mom to Wm, 11 yo, dx 9/18/13
  15. Pemb

    Pemb Approved members

    Jun 26, 2013
    We've run into this a few times. I just want to mention that it is not just people. Adverts on television are sometimes also very insensitive. There is one in particular, Lyrica, I think, for diabetic nerve pain, that would freak my son out quite a bit.

    We just talk about how the complications only happen for some people, and tell him that it is unlikely that he will experience them since we are so vigilant. That lets him stop being afraid.

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