How About We Get Cured as a Team
Learn to open up, listen, and ditch any pre-conceived notions about diabetes
Editor's Note: While this columnist is no longer writing for dLife.com and we have ceased to update the information contained herein, there is much to be read here that is still applicable to the lives of people with diabetes. If you wish to act on anything you learn here, be sure to consult your doctor first. Please enjoy the column!
July 2009 — Al Pacino is one of my all-time favorite actors. And his "inch by inch" speech in the movie Any Given Sunday will always stick in my head, specifically a line that went something like: "Either we heal as a team, or we will die as individuals."
Pacino's words resonated with me recently, as it became apparent how much division there is between people who have type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Honestly, it was hard for me to see people talking to each other so harshly. It was as if we didn't ALL fight to keep our blood sugars in control every day.
Yet, at the same time, trying to throw all types of diabetes together would be an oversimplification of reality. Each type of diabetes comes with its own challenges, and there are those who have admirable glucose control as well as those who could have a better A1C test result in all groups.
Folks with type 1 diabetes (as well as those with LADA and anyone whose pancreas no longer produces insulin) face short-term risks such as DKA, going low overnight, and the fear of running out of their supply of synthetic insulin. But folks with type 2 diabetes don't have it easy, either. They live with a negative stigma, thanks to media portrayal of the disease. And although you can help keep your glucose in check as a type 2 largely through diet and exercise, we all know lifestyle changes can be a tough challenge for most adults.
So what is there to gain by saying who has "tougher" diabetes? Or who "did this on to themselves?" I don't think none of us (and by "us" I mean anyone with diabetes) gains anything and we lose a lot as a community. The enemy is not the "other" group - the enemy is diabetes itself and the lack of a better understanding about diabetes within the diabetes community and in the world at large.
The result of the antagonism I have seen between people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes is a broken team spirit. Teamwork could help us raise more awareness, make more noise, and get more people (with and without diabetes) educated about the different types, what life is like with diabetes and ultimately, cure diabetes and the stigma attached to it.
So if you think you have it hard with your diabetes, please consider one of these things you can do to focus your energy on something that will help us all:
- If you don't have a blog, start one. Why? Because writing forces you to read more and reading more forces you to learn more. In the process of reading, pick a few top notch diabetes blogs to follow and make sure to read the best diabetes books.
- If there is not a local support group in your community for people with diabetes, start one. Get people with diabetes together to come out of their shell and talk about their lives with this disease.
- If you pick up something incorrect about diabetes in the media, don't just complain about it! Contact the station or the newspaper editor and point out how they can correct the information in the future. As a patient, make yourself available as a resource for future stories about diabetes.
- Organize activities for World Diabetes Day: either light up a building in blue or contact local media to let them know about November 14th and its relevance. Of course, this will be easier to do if you have previously contacted them and helped them do a better job at portraying diabetes.
- Last (but not least), listen to what others are saying. Even if you have heard it "a million times" before, there's always an opportunity to learn something and to teach something. Opening up to what others have to say and putting any pre-conceived notions aside, will help us go a long way … as a team.
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.
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