Playing the D Card

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Here’s a little something on the perks of diabetes. “The perks of diabetes,” you ask? Yes, the perks of diabetes. I call it “playing the D card.”

Playing the D card can be done wherever and whenever you like, but it should be used wisely until you’re good at it. It first occurred to me how little people know about diabetes when some of my friends thought the way to cure low blood sugar was to give a shot of insulin. As you know, this would, in fact, make the situation much worse. A shot of glucagon is used in a major emergency, but a small glass of OJ or apple juice usually does the trick for me.

I think the whole needle business scares people because we are taught from childhood that shots hurt and are bad. I call “BS” on this one. The needles we use today are so sharp and small that they hurt less than a pin prick. But people who don’t have diabetes don’t know that. The general public and my non-doctor, non-biology-nerd friends know very little about diabetes except that treatment involves needles and that Wilford Brimley is overly concerned about how often you check your blood sugar. He forcefully tells the American public this daily during The Price is Right. (So I’ve been unemployed before and watched The Price is Right five days in a row—what?)

The funniest thing was, once when I was checking my blood sugar, Wilford’s Liberty Mutual commercial came on. I laughed alone for five minutes straight and was—and still am—convinced that he is a saint. During that unemployed week, I was waiting for a call from a job and was forced to commit the ultimate sin: answering my cell phone when an unidentified call came up. It could have been a new job, so it had to be done. I just picked it up, and what do you know—it was a survey call. Here’s how it played out.

Me: Hello?

Caller: May I speak to Mr. Stuckey?

Me: This is Andy.

Caller: Sir, are you interested in answering a quick 20 question survey?

Me: I’m sorry, but I have diabetes. Can—

Caller: Oh I’m sorry—

Click. Dial tone.

Note that she was the one who hung up. I laughed, realizing I had a new superpower. I’d just played the D card for the first, but certainly not the last, time. The caller obviously had no idea what diabetes is. It’s not like I can’t talk, and at the time my blood sugar was completely normal. Maybe she thought I could give her diabetes through the phone.

Well, anyway, I’ve used this technique ever since to deal with all types of annoying phone calls, as well as pretty much anytime I’ve been in a hurry, was accosted by a stranger, or had someone put me down. The next time you’re asked on the street if you have a minute for Greenpeace or would like to apply for a credit card, just say, “Sir, I’m sorry, but I have diabetes” and see what happens. I’ll be shocked if they don’t leave you alone.

Like I stated at the beginning, start off slow and get comfortable with your delivery. Soon, you will be able to trump any situation with one simple phrase. “I’m sorry, but I have diabetes. That’s not gonna happen.”

Spread the word.

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