Once, my father and I were at a party when he inadvertently taught me a valuable lesson about dealing with “helpful” people. As a diabetic I run into a lot of helpful people; by which I mean strangers and acquaintances who eagerly provide me with free yet priceless advice on how to live with diabetes.
“You have the diabetes? My aunt had that.”
“You don’t need to have it. My aunt, she cured herself.”
“Did she now?”
“What you oughta do is drink five cups of liquefied celery a day, every day for two weeks. You put the celery in a blender—an aluminum blender—for ten minutes. That’s ten minutes minimum, until it liquefies. Then down the hatch and, bam! No more diabetes.”
Anyway. My father and I were at this party and I stepped away to get some food. While I was gone a woman who advocated Echinacea enemas and probably wore hemp underwear cornered my father—who is a diehard meat and potatoes kind of guy—in conversation.
Uh oh, I thought looking across the room at them, trouble brewing.
By the time I got back the woman was lost in the rapture of full conversion mode. She was ticking through the benefits of aromatherapy, acupuncture, homeopathy, reflexology and half a dozen other -ologies that, she insisted, would vastly improve the state of my father’s mental and physical health, She ended her pitch for perfection by telling my father, as a service mind you, that his pot roast was no better to his body than rat poison.
“Alternative medicine probably helps and is probably good for you,” my father said to the woman. “Unless, of course, you’re gut shot.”
“Well,” the woman said, “I suppose that’s true.”
And with that, the two of them found a middle ground. They came to a place where they could both agree and disagree and both emerge after sharing their viewpoint having been heard and appreciated by the other.
These days, that’s what I aim for when I am lectured about how I do not need medication to treat my diabetes when people are successfully treating, and even curing themselves, with cucumbers, or ginger, or chromium, or fenugreek, or bitter melon, or nigella sativia, or …. whatever.
“Thank you for sharing that information,” I said recently after sitting through a what-you-oughta-do talk. “It might help improve my diabetes. But, in my case my body doesn’t produce any insulin at all, so I still need to take insulin.”
“None at all?”
“That sucks. Then I guess you need to take it.”
“Yeah,” I said. “It’s kind of like being gut shot.”
“Oh,” I said, smiling to myself. “It’s just something my father used to say.”