Monday, May 12, 2014

Monday- Change the World: Battling Diabetes Misconceptions

The only way I feel I change the world in terms of diabetes is by combating the misconceptions and misinformation. I feel fairly informed on the subject. I've lived with type one since I was seven years old, and I've been thirsty for information on the subject for just as long. When you're reading about diabetes, it's impossible to avoid reading about all types, even if you're just looking for information on your own type.

It's a fact of diabetic life that T2's get the worst of this misinformation and public judgment. Poor diet leads to obesity which leads to diabetes. So, obviously, if you have diabetes, you have done something wrong. You're a glutton who can't put down the fork. If you eat right and exercise like you're supposed to, you can cure your diabetes. Obviously this is not the truth, but it is what most people unaffected by diabetes believe. 

So what do I do? I talk and type about diabetes, a lot. At first it was hard, because nobody ever wants to stand out from the crowd, nobody wants to be the cynic who ruins jokes with truth. Beyond that, people don't want to hear that there really isn't anything you can do to avoid diabetes, regardless of type. If you're doomed to develop insulin resistance, or if your body is just designed stupidly enough to attack itself... it's just going to happen. Sorry. But to know you can't avoid it, that you can't do anything, is terrifying.

 I believe that getting the truth out there is important for several reasons. First, we need to get rid of the diabetes blame game. Because of misconceptions by the general public, I get hit with the blame of eating too much sugar all the time. I know it's not the cause of my diabetes, but what about the T2's out there who hear this all the time? The T2's who believe it? I can't imagine how that feels. The second reason we need to spread information about diabetes is so the people who are eating well and exercising don't think they're protected from type 2 diabetes. We need to end the blame and end the shame. 

The thing that makes me the most vocal in terms of diabetes is when I hear of various ways to "cure" it. I'm sure you heard of these things: eat cinnamon, go raw, go vegan, eat super low carb, etc. That's cool and all, but unless you can turn around from your plate of cinnamon cucumbers and eat a cake without problems, it's not a cure. 

I could write a book about all the stupid things I've heard about this disease. Sometimes it feels pointless to keep talking about diabetes when nobody really cares. The part of me that pursues is the part that hopes that I can change the way one person feels about diabetes, or I can get one person to reconsider making a joke about Jimmy and his damn candy bars. It's the only way I can think to change anything about the world in regards to diabetes. 

9 comments:

  1. Great post! I have to admit to fatigue sometimes when I feel like I both have to let people know that I or my daughter have T1 (more because it is safer for her if people understand the difference) AND that they are way off base on their assumptions about T2 (or diabetes in general) but it really is those one-on-one corrections of misinformation that can make the biggest difference.

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  2. Yes, great post! I hate hearing about the ways to "cure" diabetes...I eat "cinnamon" crunch bagels from Panera but I'm still diabetic!

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  3. Thank you SO much for this post! It's a relief to hear someone who "gets it" and does something, anything, to set things right. You gave me tears, in a good way.

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  4. Exactly! Don't forget the okra water. I have a husband that is type 2 and a fairly newly diagnosed type 1 and the misconceptions on both are staggering. I actually had to say something to family to not place blame on diet for either. That's tough, especially now. People just don't get it.

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  5. This is so perfect and well said, I can't think of anything to add. Except that I agree 100% and to thank you for putting this out there.

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