The Problem with Responsibility

I’m not a child, so I do not have a parent who makes healthy diabetes[1] meals for me and gets on my case about doing this or that to make sure I grow up healthy in spite of my Type 1 diabetes. Although I’m married, my wife is not my keeper; she loves me and she’s concerned about my health, but it is not her way to nag or pester or check in with me about my diabetes care, so I do not live with someone who asks me if I’ve exercised or if I’m watching what I eat or if I’ve checked my blood glucose or if I should really be out gardening without shoes on.

I do not have an endocrinologist who criticizes my self-management and picks out those areas in which I should be doing better and reprimands me for my actions. My primary care physician doesn’t spout a litany of what it is I ought to be doing to improve my lifestyle. My therapist doesn’t focus on my self-management and try to explore the reasons I might go several weeks without exercise or why I don’t follow the diets touted by diabetes magazines and diabetes experts.

My friends don’t monitor what I consume or drink when we’re out to eat. My colleagues don’t ask me if I’ve thought about the consequences of taking an extra handful of potato chips or an extra bagel at a staff event and what that might do to my diabetes. My parents don’t call to check up on how my diabetes is going; my sister isn’t e-mailing me with links to articles that I ought to read because it could help with my care.

And I’m not a religious person, so there’s no pastor, minister, priest, rabbi, or fellow believers at my place of worship who check in on me.

If I had the sort of health watchers out there who felt it their duty to keep tabs on my diabetes management with constant reminding, talking, preaching, asking, nitpicking, (mild) harassing, and so on…well, I have a feeling that I’d distance myself from them because I don’t like being told what to do. Heck, I might even rebel and use their good-intentioned but overbearing ways to convince myself to go the opposite way.

Most people don’t like being told what to do.

And yet there are times, such as the other evening, when I have moments of self-management weakness. These are often exacerbated by something out of whack with my diabetes that day, like a higher blood glucose (or a lower blood glucose). During these moments, I think how nice it would be to turn over all of my diabetes responsibilities to someone else. Give me some keepers!

I know, I do, that it’s not a good way to operate for the long-haul. Yet sometimes I so want to turn over to others my daily diabetes attentiveness.

As those of you with diabetes know, the condition is a constant in your life. I’ve written before about diabetes and how it seeps into everything because it can affect everything. So, yeah, sometimes, wouldn’t it be nice to have a team of people to take on the burden, to do the thinking for you?

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Eric Lagergren: Eric Lagergren was born in 1974 but didn’t give much thought to diabetes until March 2007, when he was diagnosed with Type 1. He now gives quite a bit of thought to the condition, and to help him better understand his life as a person with diabetes, he writes about it. Eric is the senior editor for the Testing Division at the University of Michigan’s English Language Institute in Ann Arbor. (Eric Lagergren is not a medical professional.)

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