I see a lot of outrage regarding the way that the public percieves diabetes, most recently due to the article that Bill Cosby wrote for the NY Times. Sometimes I feel like I am missing the outrage gene, because it takes a lot for me to get up in arms. Hint: if you do manage to really provoke my ire to that point, then be prepared for four-horsemen-of-the-apocalypse-level fury. But my focus in writing this is that I see two conflicting issues that consistently draw “outrage” from the diabetes community.
1) People asking questions about diabetes: If I had a nickel for every time I saw some meme on my social media feeds, or ranting status update about “how pissed so-and-so was” that they got questioned about why they take injections or have to test their blood sugar or why they choose to avoid certain foods, I’d have enough money to pay Bill Cosby to write this post for me.
People are curious and want to understand what makes us different–and why we have to do things differently than they do in order to manage our condition. What’s the big deal? Why is that a bad thing that we must find so insufferable? I can’t tell you how many times someone’s “stupid question” has led to an interesting discussion and teachable moment to educate them about diabetes. Some of these moments have led to friendships and people who have supported Project365 because they appreciated the idea of informing others who might have questions.
The closest I am going to get to being outraged in this post is over the fact that people who don’t have diabetes feel bad or awkward about asking questions because they are programmed to think that it’s offensive to question something that doesn’t make sense to them.
2) People making ignorant statements about diabetes: See point 1, above. If people aren’t informed about diabetes, then how are they supposed to have accurate information about its nuances and nomenclature?
And speaking of nomenclature (which is the spark that ignited the outrage against Cosby) what happened to that petition that was going around to change the name of type 1 diabetes to something else? I remember a lot people kind of kicking that idea under the bus but turning around now and being outraged over the misinformation that Cosby displayed in his referencing an increase type 2 diabetes in kids as “juvenile diabetes”.
Personally I thought the point that Cosby was making was fairly clear–poor diet is related to an increase of type 2 diabetes in kids–not saying it’s a direct cause, but that 32oz Mountain Dew with a happy meal three times a week certainly isn’t reducing the risk factors, is it? Juvenile diabetes was synonymous with T1 diabetes back in the day that the nomenclature was agreed upon. Years ago, any juvenile (child) who presented with symptoms of diabetes was by default, T1. It doesn’t take a PhD from Harvard Medical School to see that across the intervening decades, the diet, eating habits and lifestyle of our society has changed in ways that resulted in both T1 and T2 diabetes occurring in juveniles–which is a new thing.
Clear as mud, right?!
So why is it that we have to lash out at people who don’t have a clear grasp of the nuances of diabetes when they are stating an opinion–not giving medical advice. Granted, Cosby played a doctor on TV but that was a while ago.
Quick! Tell me the differences between Hepatitis A, B and C!
Time’s up! Wait you dont know? Well obviously…if you don’t live with a condition you’re going to have some misunderstandings and that ignorance is something we all share on some level, about some things. It’s not a big deal. It’s not a cause for outrage. A simple, kind explanation would go a long way and open a path for more effective discussions and dialogue.
And yeah, we can’t expect people to get it right 100% of the time when they talk about diabetes. When I see Bear Grylls leading a 5.4 climbing route in a commercial, with three top ropes tied to him, holds breaking and unnecessarily dynamic movements–to sell anti-perspirant to twenty-something males, sure I roll my eyes, but I’m probably not going to take to the streets with torches and pitchforks over the matter.