Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Six Things that I Wish Society Knew about Diabetes by Kerri Sparling

Those of you who have followed my blog know I occasionally (maybe too much) like to use my blog to educate people about Type 1 Diabetes. My daughter was diagnosed with this disease on January 22, 2007 when she was 12 years old. It's a day none in our family will ever forget.

With November being Diabetes Month, a lot of the internet world is coming together to spread the word. My very favorite Type 1 Diabetes blog is Six Until Me by Kerri Sparling.

I've never met Kerri, but she's helped me look past the disease and see that a person can have a wonderful, exciting, and happy life despite all that is involved managing this beast. Kerri makes me laugh, cry, and hope. She has a beautiful new baby girl, handsome husband, and some super cute kitties. Kerri has THE BEST sense of humor that is a wonderful addition to her talent as a writer. I found Kerri's blog soon after Corrinne's diagnosis. Over these past few years Kerri put into the words things I've thought or felt but could not articulate. So I'm copying one of her recent posts that reflects my thoughts on what I wish society knew about Type 1 diabetes.

(I apologize to Kerri. I wanted to make a direct link to this exact post but was unable to do so.)

Thank you Kerri!

D-Blog Day: Six Things on SixUntilMe.

D-Blog Day 2010: SUM EditionIt's Diabetes Month. And it's D-Blog Day (thanks, Gina!). This year, the online collective is talking about the six things they wish people knew about diabetes. I know we, as part of this community, know an awful lot, but I wanted to write this for the people who might just stumble onto this post arbitrarily. Because we talk a lot to one another within our community, but we need to bring awareness outside of this bubble.

Here are my six things that I wish society knew about diabetes:

There is more than one kind of diabetes
. This isn't a knock on my type 2 and gestational diabetes friends, but definitely a knock on society's perceptions at large. People have one musty, old perception of what diabetes looks like, and it's always someone older, heavier, and lazy. Wouldn't they be surprised to meet our fit type 2 friends, or the 20 year old gestational diabetic? Or a "juvenile diabetic" who isn't eight years old? Diabetes doesn't have "a look." This disease does not discriminate.

Diabetes affects more than just the person playing host to it
. I am the one wearing and insulin pump, a continuous glucose monitor, and actually feeling these blood sugar highs and lows. But I'm not the only one affected by diabetes. My parents had to care for me when I was young, acting as my pancreas. My friends have been affected by my lows and highs while we're hanging out, sometimes forced to jump the bar and accost the bartender for orange juice. (True story.) And my husband has taken on this disease as his own as best he can, making it such an integrated part of our life together that I don't feel alone. Diabetes isn't just mine. It belongs to everyone who cares about me.

Diabetes isn't just a physiological disease.
It's an emotional one, too. It's not just a question of blood sugar levels and insulin supplementation. It's about managing the emotions that come as part of life with a chronic illness. It's about the guilt of complications. The pressure to control an uncontrollable disease. The hope that tomorrow will come without incident. I feel that the emotional aspects of diabetes need to be attended to with the same care and diligence as an A1C level. Maybe more so, because life needs to be happy, whether it's a short life or a very long one.

Diabetes isn't easy. We just make it look that way sometimes. Some of the perceptions that the general public has is that diabetes is easy to handle. "You just wear the pump, test your blood sugar, and watch your diet and you'll be fine, right?" Wrong. You can do the exact same thing every day and still see varying diabetes outcomes. It's never all figured out. Diabetes is a daily dance of numbers and emotions and even though we, as a community, make it look easy sometimes, it sure isn't.

No diabetes is the same. Even within a community of diabetics, there are still widely varying ways of treating diabetes and even more ways of dealing with the emotional aspects. There's no winning combination and no "right" way to deal with this disease. Being on a pump means you use a pump to infuse your insulin - this doesn't necessarily mean you are taking better care of yourself than the person who opts for injections. Low-carb doesn't work for everyone, and neither do certain medications. Your diabetes may vary (thanks, Bennet), and what works for you may not work for everyone. It's important to remember that this disease doesn't have a predictable path, so there are plenty of "right' ways to handle it.

Just because we don't look sick doesn't mean we don't deserve a cure. That statement sums it up for me. We might make it look easy, but it isn't. There's no rhyme or reason to this disease, and even with the best care and the best intentions, complications can sometimes still come calling. And their effects are devastating. Diabetes, of all kinds, deserves a cure. No one asked for any of this. We deserve better than society thinking that diabetes isn't worth their attention. We deserve a cure.

Happy D-Blog Day to my fellow PWDs and caregivers. You guys make this whole mess so much easier to deal with. Thanks for being there!

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