The diabetes cause still needs our attention and we still have to work hard.
By Tom Karlya
October 2008 — I had the opportunity to attend a black tie function recently. It was a diabetes cause and while I was there, I ran into an old friend. She was someone I had not seen in a while and both of our children were diagnosed at about the same time in 1992.
"Hi Susie." (Not her real name)
"Hi Tom, it's been a while."
"Yes, but you look wonderful."
"Thank you. How's Kaitlyn?"
"Fine. She is a freshman in college now."
‘Wow. Yes, that would be right, Dave is a sophomore. My, my, time goes by quickly." She looked around the room of about 500 people. "So many have come and gone, Tom."
"How do you mean?"
"There was a time that you and I could look around the room. Not only would we know almost everyone in the room, but there would be so many more than the number here tonight. Where have they gone?"
Where have they gone? For the rest of the entire night and since that evening a few weeks ago, that phrase has not left my head. Where have they gone? It's not only a matter of people moving from one organization over to another. It's that so many people have stopped being involved altogether. And for the life of me I cannot understand why. Did diabetes go away some time over the last few years? Why, over time, have people just stopped helping the diabetes cause? I tried to find out.
I started looking on Facebook for people I have not seen in a while. I had two things going against me – one was that there are a lot more people younger than 50 than older than 50 on Facebook. The other hurdle was to make sure that the person who popped up in answer to a name was indeed the same person for whom I was searching. After a few hours, I found someone who lives on Long Island who I have not seen in a long, long time – and I reached out.
Much to my surprise they answered back. The Facebook encounter became an exchange of an email which led to a phone call. It was great to reconnect. Their child with diabetes was married with a few children and life was great. We talked back and forth and finally I got to my question at hand.
"So are you still involved anywhere supporting the diabetes cause?"
Without one second hesitation, the answer came. "No we got so burned out. I saw that you still are and that's great but event after event and donation after donation along with Julie (not her real name) getting older and getting married; well we just got burned out and saw no need to keep at it?"
Please do me a favor and reread that last paragraph just one more time.
Burned out? Burned out from what? "No, I just got burned out making meal after meal so I just stopped feeding the kids." "Nope, hated my job and although I have no money, just said the heck with it, I'm done!"
Burned out? Okay we need to recharge our batteries every now and again but stopped because they did not see the need to continue. My goodness, is this the reason so many people are no longer involved in the diabetes cause?
I started to get a little bit angry at the notion that someone would believe that they were done. DIABETES HAS NOT GONE AWAY. I know each person is different and if you come across this article and have told yourself that you are done, remember this: Your child does not have that option. They cannot "just be done."
If you feel like your involvement is starting to get to you and are just starting to feel dragged down remember how the fight started. If you disagree with EVERYTHING, and I cannot believe that you cannot find one place worthy of your energy; start something on your own.
CWD, DRI, JDRF, IDF, and so many more were started by just a few people, or less, because they wanted to make a difference. Your child's diabetes did not and has not gone away. Many have all taken on the battle against diabetes in some way. The passing of time is just not a good enough reason to throw in the towel.
Yogi Berra is credited with saying, "It ain't over until it's over."
It's not over. I'm a Diabetes Dad.
dLife's Viewpoints columnists are not all medical experts, but everyday people living with diabetes and sharing their personal experiences, most often at a set point in time. While their method of diabetes management may work for them, everyone is different. Please consult with your diabetes care team before acting on anything you read here to find out what will work best for you.
Sweet Cooked Carrots Gingered Pork and Melon Salad Tuscan Bean & Vegetable Soup Sauteed Peppers and Tomatoes Spinach and Water Chestnut Dip Chocolate and Banana Malt Vegetables en Papillote Thai Barley Stir-Fry Asian Walnut Chicken Steamed Brussels Sprouts and Cauliflower with Walnuts
Because I wear my Dexcom on my arm, I’ve slowly adjusted to the fact that people will ask me about it. Sometimes it’s the rude and inquisitive “What’s that?” and sometimes it’s somewhat sincere curiosity “Is that a (insert random type of medical device that they assume)?” Sometimes it bothers me more than others depending on how they ask and how they respond once I’ve told them what it is. I have limits to how much myth-busting I want to do in everyday conversation and how much rudeness I can...