Diabetes and What the Media Will NEVER Report
It’s not easy having type 2 diabetes. Yes, the illness itself is challenging – what with needing to make changes to one’s entire lifetime of habits; a high learning curve for disease management and medications; complications which are often genetics-driven vs. consequence driven; and the physical and emotional impact of fluctuating blood glucose levels.
But type 2 diabetes isn’t easy for other reasons, as well. It’s like the hemorrhoids of the 21st century. The world has turned us into a social pariah and the butt-end of many a joke. There is no other disease, since AIDS, lung cancer and emphysema, linked more to social outcry than diabetes.
And that’s really a shame. On some unconscious level, we seem to understand that bullying is wrong, and that it doesn’t help anyone; that making fun of chronic illness is unacceptable, or that people struggling with illness are deeply hurt by jokes at their expense. But we can’t seem to combine all these notions to realize that making fun of people with diabetes is NOT okay.
People feel in their RIGHT to do so because of the current widespread media narrative and the metrics used to judge people with diabetes, as though they are at a deep moral and character failure for both having ‘given themselves’ a disease, and ‘failing’ to manage it.
We are CONSTANTLY having conversations on how taking personal accountability can prevent type 2 diabetes – making changes in diet, exercising, and cutting habits like drinking and smoking. We are CONSTANTLY having conversations on how uncontrolled diabetes costs the country billions of dollars, and especially we are blamed for not managing our conditions. The weight is ALWAYS put on our shoulders.
“Oh, if ONLY seniors would take care of themselves, Medicare wouldn’t waste billions,” the media decry. We are leaders in “wasted healthcare spending.”
But we are NOT having other, and perhaps more significant conversations:
- People CANNOT take care of what they don’t understand! Lots of persons with diabetes leave their doctor’s offices without a CLUE as to what they have – and having never been explained an iota of anything. Furthermore, they are routinely DENIED diabetes education courses so that they can even understand how to take baby steps in management. Communities of learning and knowledge like ours THRIVE because of this. Where else can many persons with diabetes get support, and help? Certainly, and sadly… not at their doctor’s offices, where they barely get 15 minutes of attention per visit.
- People CANNOT take care of their diabetes if they do not have the tools. For how much there is an outcry about ‘expensive’ diabetes care – the fact is, many of us are DENIED access to that care, anyway. The most basic of tools – diabetes testing strips and meters – are often not covered appropriately by insurance. They will make up all kinds of excuses as to why don’t need more than one strip a day, not allowing people to UNDERSTAND how what they eat impacts their levels, or firsthand knowledge of tightly managing their levels through the day. You can’t control things if you don’t know what’s going on, and can’t see it. I guarantee them that the cost of out of control diabetes and its attendant complications is much, much higher than some test strips, meters, and even insulin pods.
- Lifestyle changes are a way to REDUCE RISK of type 2 diabetes NOT a way to prevent it. You can do everything right, and STILL get it because it’s genetic. Type 2 diabetes has a HUGE genetic risk, and even though over 60% of Americans are overweight, overall – only about 9.3% have ANY form of diabetes, including type 1, pre-diabetes, and the undiagnosed. This is clearly NOT a cause and effect relationship. It is a correlator – of which there can be quite a few! If you have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, or if you take a steroidal medication – you are at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes, among other factors. This is important. Americans overall are at risk for MANY conditions which have many genetic markers, and may also be triggered by lifestyle choices, etc. Until our country, overall, moves toward a healthier attitude towards foods and exercise, we need to stop throwing people with diabetes under the bus for this. Our country is extremely unhealthy for anyone needing to be conscious about their health, in any way. It doesn’t help anyone when we treat others with a lack of dignity and respect, for their health challenges.
Perhaps it would be novel if instead of keeping a conversation going on how people with diabetes ‘don’t do x, or y, or z,’ we could start shedding a light on how the medical establishment, insurance governments, and others don’t do right by people with chronic health conditions – especially diabetes, by denying them education, access to medication and management tools, and impartial reporting. Just how many doctors’ offices out there aren’t giving people ANY information before they leave their office after a diagnosis? How many deny them an appropriate amount of insulin strips or access to medications? How many drag their heels on a diagnosis, and pretend like it’s not there? Let’s see reports on THAT, for a change.