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Lunch Hour Education.

Not in the mood to educateDuring my lunch break yesterday, I dropped by the local Ann Taylor store to poke around in their sale rack.  An older woman, maybe about 55 years old, approached me and asked if I needed a dressing room started.

"No, I'm all set, thanks.  I'm on lunch, so this is just a quick visit."  

"Oh!  You work in the area?  I've seen you in here before."

"Yes, I work at dLife."

She pursed her lips.  "dLife?  What's that?"

"It's a diabetes media company.  We have a website?  And a show on CNBC about diabetes management."  I ran my fingertips down the seam of a black dressy top that I loved.

"Diabetes.  Oh, the sugar!  I have that.  I have diabetes and my doctor told me to try and lose weight."

"That's good!  You're taking the right steps."  I moved away a little bit, perusing another sale rack.  She followed me.

"You know, I see all these fat little kids at the high school when I drop my daughter off.  I see them and I can't help but think that they are all going to get diabetes.  Like me.  They'll end up taking shots and losing their eyesight, you know.  Diabetes is a very serious disease."

I smiled at her.  "Diabetes is a very serious disease.  But diabetes isn't always caused by being overweight.  There are different types of diabetes."

"I know.  The kind I have?  It's because of being overweight.  My ex-husband told me that."  She adjusted her glasses.  "But I want to lose the weight so I don't end up taking shots.  Did you know that some people have to wear a machine all day long that gives them their shot?  My goodness.  Those people must be sick as can be.  No ma'am, I don't want that to be me.  I take my pills.  I'm not going to end up like those people."

I was on my lunch break.  I didn't want to get into a big diabetes discussion while I was shopping.  But I couldn't let this lady ramble on, thinking diabetes was her fault and also thinking that pump wearers are on their death bed.

"Well, diabetes isn't your fault.  It's a disease, not a guilt trip.  But it's good that you're taking your pills and trying to lose weight.  That's a step in the right direction.  I also have diabetes - type 1 - and I wear one of those machines that gives me insulin all day long."  I smiled again, trying to show her that I wasn't dying.

"Oh my.  How long do you have?"

"Excuse me?"

"How many years?"

(Is she seriously asking me this?) 

"Left?  Ma'am, I'm not dying.  This machine doesn't mean I'm dying.  It's just another method of insulin delivery.  So instead of shots, I wear this pump.  It's okay.  I'm in good health.  I've been diabetic almost 22 years.  It's complicated, but it's not my fault.  Diabetes brings enough to the table - we don't need guilt, too."

"Well, I don't want to wear that thing."  She gestured quickly towards my pocket, where my pump was clipped.  "I'll just keep taking my pills.  I don't want my diabetes turning into what you have.  No offense, sweetie.   You look very healthy, and I never expected you to have it, too.  And I never expected yours to be that bad."  She smiled sweetly, making her remarks sound even more ignorant.

I'm all about educating people and raising awareness.  But sometimes I'm not up for the challenge.  I wanted to buy a pretty shirt, go to the bank, and then go back to work.  I didn't have the patience to be tolerant that afternoon.

"That's great, ma'am.  I wish you and your health all the best.  And just so you know, I don't want to wear this pump, either.  But it keeps me healthy.  And I want to be healthy.  Have a good one."

Turned on my heel.  She was still talking, something about "We're having a sale on suits, did you know that ..."

Lady, if I have just one day left or a million years in my future, I don't want to spend another minute of it talking with you.


:( Ugh. There are books about long-lived type 1s, I think I want to find out the titles so I can rattle them off when someone gives me this spiel.

The whole "taking insulin is the end of my life" attitude KILLS me.

It just goes to show how important diabetes education is in this world. And this was coming from someone who has diabetes!

I'll admit I do not know that much about diabetes, but since my father was diagnosed (and I am on the way), I have learned more, read your blog, Amy's blog, joined TuDiabetes - the info is out there - it is just up to the individual to learn.

I can't believe her ignorance and rude behavior - and as a salesperson. Sometimes it is best to just keep your mouth shut!

Kudos to you for being so nice to her. Her reaction is exactly why I NEVER tell people about my T1. I admire people who want to educate the masses on D, but my experience has always been that you can't educate people about it... they think they already know everything about it!

It's so tough because sometimes you just want to avoid the "talk" but you then again, if you don't say something then you lost your shot at educating someone else who really needs it!

You did really good. I would have not said anything for fear of "going off" on the poor lady.

Nothing worse than ignorance, and you probably felt like she was blaming you for not taking good enough care of yourself. Grrr... But that's all it is, just ignorance, not blame and not pity.

I usually just try and feel sorry for people like that, rather than angry. Most of us, when diagnosed with a new disease, would do enough research to find out more than the basics our doctors had told us. I really think there's a relationship between being proactive about learning about your disease and being proactive in managing it. The fact that she didn't is a sign she'll probably have a hard time controlling her diabetes, won't test anywhere near as often as she should, won't be able to motivate herself to exercise and limit carbs, etc., and so will have real problems in the future. You have to pity that.

So now the IMPORTANT question, Kerri girl. Did'ja buy the pretty shirt?

Well done, Kerri. Kudos for being so nice to her. I probably would have lost it. I hate rude and ignorant people.

i would probably not have been as nice. good job on being so kind in your explanation of diabetes. some people's kids, you know? "once you're taking insulin, you know, you pretty much signed your warrant."


You really do have the patience of a saint sometimes. I would have had a hard time not looking at her like she was a complete moron. You can only educate so many people in a day before you start to feel like an exhausted idiot. You did the right thing in that situation, for sure!

I thanked a guy for moving over so I could sit down on the subway the other day. Said, "Thanks, I appreciate that. I'm not feeling too great today." He looked at me funny, so I said, "Oh, it's not anything scary, just morning sickness." Then he proceeded to tell me how he didn't think I was really pregnant. OK, sir. Have a good one!

Maybe we should fix him up with the Ann Taylor lady.

Ignorance can be cured, while stupidity... She seemed to lean toward the latter category since she didn't absorb what you said, just kept on believing that you're on your deathbed just because you wear a pump.

I've been a T2 for 22 years (we're like twins! ;-). Although I realize that being overweight exacerbates diabetes and losing weight is great for control, it's not the cause. T2s sure get a free trip on the guilt train, though. Woo-woo!

I'm speechless.

Have to say, in my head (well some of it was out loud, only my cat hears me if he chooses) I was cursing and yelling at the sales lady.

How'd ya keep your cool??

And like Elizabeth asked, didja buy the skirt? And if yes, take it to another sales lady to ring it up? ha ha.

They say ignorance is bliss. Right. And stupidity is a disease. What? I mean....

Oh the uneducated or rather those living in their own world, YDMV people!!!

There is no excuse for Stupid, eh?!

...and yes, I say stupid (although I don't like that word), because she didn't know when to shut up!!!

Congrats you managed that very well and kept a cool head . I dont think i could have been that nice about it . she was showing her ignorance and i dont blame you i would not have waisted another minute talking to her either .I think i might have lost my patience and went off on her . You are well commended on the fact that you kept a cool head about you .

I'd say that is unreal...only I've lived similar experiences where people are trying to offer up pity since my child must be on her deathbed...ya know, having to wear a pump and all ;-)

I try to educate people to the best of my ability, but I can certainly appreciate that she was someone who just wasn't a "candidate for education". But hopefully at least a tiny bit of the info you did impart might eventually sink in and she might have a lightbulb go off one day

Absolutely unbelievable. "How long do you have?"?! Is she serious? You showed some major restraint, Kerri - well done! And as someone else said in their comment on this post, this is coming from a woman who has diabetes. Shows how much information is not communicated to people WITH diabetes, let alone the general public who DON'T have it. Sad.

I don't think that's a surprising attitude for someone to have if they've never been exposed to a Type 1.

My perception of T2:

1) Start with diet & excercise
2) Progress to taking oral meds
3) Progress to taking insulin

It's not hard to understand why you might then conclude:

4) Keel Over

I'd add to my last point, I don't feel any sense of contempt for this woman but rather a sense of pity.

It's pretty likely that she receives medical care bordering on negligent and has received virtually no education regarding her condition. She's certainly not alone in that regard.

I'm still hung up on the "How long do you have?" part... Because of that, I can't think of anything else to say other than WOW!

wow, i can't believe that lady. was she serious..those are the types of people i want to change and educate in the world. People always ask me...is ur diabetes "bad"? or do you have the bad diabetes or the good? and im like OMG. I am constantly teaching ppl about it, cause they just dont understand. However, this lady seems like she would have never given up on her ignorant ways. sorry you had to encounter that kerri on ur lunchbreak haha.

Glad to hear that you're still alive! ;)

This is why I hate that they're both called 'diabetes.' I no longer refer to it as Type I because people just don't get the difference; I always say Juvenile, though sometimes I just want to call it 'the old fashioned kind,' like back in the day when Type II wasn't everywhere.

It's tough to educate people who don't really want to learn.

Oh my god, my head would have exploded. All over her sale rack.

Hindsight is 20/20. In response to her "How long do you have?" question, you should have put on your saddest face and said "Not long at all, and all I ever wanted was a blouse just like this. Too bad I'll die without being able to afford it. You know, the funeral costs I just prepaid took my last dollar. I was hoping to wear this in that pretty casket I bought."

Oh. My. Goodness. I keep reading stories about ignorant and rude people like that, but luckily I haven't met one yet. "How long do you have?" Does she ask that of all her customers? After all, everyone dies some day.

PS: I love Carol's response above!

I am so sorry to hear of your untimely death. Really really sorry. So sorry that I just can't control my emotions and I will sob the rest of the night. that shirt WOULD have looked so pretty in your casket.

Anyway, that's right up there with people looking at my fairly skinny son and saying "but he can't have diabetes, he's not fat"

Wow, I've just read this and wandered off thinking about it and sadly no zippy responses to her comments popped in my head, but I did have a thought. Not just for you, but all of us. What we need is a brochure/fact sheet with a few of the stupid myths debunked and then a short list of really good resources.

Did you catch that she got her Diabetes information from her EX-HUSBAND? OMG. It just really shows how much of a divide there is when it comes to information. SHE might not read the 'fact sheet' but someone else around her might and comment on it.

Another cool thing about having information to just hand out is it frees your lunch hour to do things you want to do - like shop! :-)


I don't understand what the fuss is about. She got "educated" by some magazines or something like that. She made up her opinion. So what?
At least she cares and does no harm. Except turning your brains into cheese.
Once or twice per month I have similar discussions. People telling you what you are doing wrong are worse. And worst are the "helping" people. A friend of mine got low, lost conscience. Another woman, not knowing her wanted to help her and found her Pens. And gave her a shot of 20 units LisPro.
We where hiking, I was in the little room where men taking rest. Well, I could have … done something not very gentleman-like to her. I didn't. A shot of Glucagon for my friend was enough (with some bread and a Coke after she woke up). I did not tell her, what the happy faced lady did to her. I told her the next day. She would have done … something not very lady-like to her.


Wow, you handled that well. I will sometimes just close up and not bother letting someone know that I am type 1 when they have such a negative attitude about diabetes. I wish more people understood that no matter what diabetes you have you can be healthy and live a healthy life.

Great job on staying positive through out the convo. It just shows how important accurate information is and how strong stereo types and misconceptions are when it comes to diabetes.


Guys, if I didn't stay diplomatic with this lady, I would have gone off on her. :) Less is more, in this specific case.

And hell yeah I bought the shirt! It was adorable. And when I was rung out by a different sales person, she leaned across the counter and said, "I'm sorry [name deleted] was talking your ear off. What was she saying?"

My response: "Nothing worth repeating."


I have just started reading some of your stuff and have laughed and cried with you. Thank you for sharing your experiences.

Holy Schnikes, Kerri.

Is she FOR REAL?

My my...you did well. I would've punched her.

The most important question is...how long DO you have?

I have a lady like this who I now dodge after Weight Watchers meetings. She wants me to tell her what she can do so she doesn't end up like me. I feel your pain.

You are indeed too sweet for not clocking her. It's people like you who keep the rest of us grounded, smiling, and diplomatic.

I'm 19 and in college, and nothing annoys me more than talking to an older person and hearing the whole "Oh, I have that. If you exercise you won't have to take as much insulin."

I'm always getting asked if I feel ok and if I've gotten my health issues straightened out yet as well.

I guess people have good intentions, I'd just rather they all understand.


Holy crap balls what an idiot woman!

....so I think I started laughing my you know what off....right about when you said "Excuse me?" My 8 year old, Rachel, diagnosed at Christmas 2007, just got her pink Animas PING on Friday. And today she got the first scratch on it that didn't please her father too much. I don't check in everyday, but save your blog as one of my favorite things to read and catch up on. Thanks for the tears, the laughs, the smiles. Thanks for the model of "life" you are and the hope you give us young moms of children with diabetes. xx

I thought she meant how long have you had it?

Being a juvenile diabetic, one of my biggest pet peeves is people not knowing the difference between type 1 and type 2,since obesity is a huge issue now days, people only get educated on type 2 and assume everyone that has diabetes is type 2! ughhh they are two TOTALLY different things!

Just the other day, I was at the gym. In the middle of a Zumba class, I felt weird, so I stopped to check my blood sugar. This older lady walks up and says,"YOU, have diabetes?! My doctor told me I was borderline because I was overweight, but you're so skinny, I can see now my weight has nothing to do with my diabetes!" I smiled, and worked out my frustration in the next two songs...but secretly, I had very mean thoughts!

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