Wednesday, November 20, 2013

I Can't Walk Away From Diabetes…...

I wish that people would take the time to get diabetes right in all its dimensions - And remember that it's not what you say, but it's how you say it - And that diabetes, regardless of the type, isn't a choice or a character flaw~

I can’t walk away from diabetes, but if I could, I totally would. 

Hell, I’d run away from diabetes and and never look back if it were physically possible. 
I’d climb Everest and scream from the top: SO LONG DIABETES (and probably do my "Ricola" impersonation) - And I’d dive into the deepest depths of the ocean where the really scary shit lurks, if it meant leaving diabetes behind for good.

Nope, type 1 diabetes walks with me - Sometimes I’m in the lead, other times diabetes is. But regardless of who’s leading and like it or not, we are always walking together.

When I was little, I did walk away from diabetes in a round about way. I didn’t test like I was supposed to, I snuck food - And I’d hop on my bike and ride to the end of the island just to get away from hearing my family talk  about me and my diabetes - or their diabetes for that matter. 

And I have a strong suspicion that you might feel the same way about walking/running away from your diabetes as I do - and regardless of your diabetes type. 

Yeah man, we’d all be diabetes expatriates if it were possible, but it’s not. 

We can’t walk or run away from our diabetes, and we can't hide from it - We have to grab it by its proverbial balls and face it head on. 

I find it much easier to  walk/run towards people with diabetes and by doing so I find strength in my community and in myself. 
Together we run towards support and comfort and and find both in others who are living the diabetes life - And in all diabetes forms and types.  

And I am so grateful for that. 

So when I received a PR pitch from a big university inviting me & other diabetes bloggers to 'walk away from diabetes’ yesterday, I gotta admit, I was ticked off on many levels. 

Here's the thing: People living with diabetes don’t have the luxury of walking away from diabetes.  
And those who do “walk away from diabetes” usually do so in the metaphoric sense - As in walking away from caring about their diabetes and those folks end up very, very sick - Or worse. 

I was offended because the title of the campaign stemmed from one of the institutions own studies (which makes total sense) but was based on people who didn’t have diabetes but who were hoping to prevent type 2 diabetes by walking.

Turns out, the campaign was really focused preventing diabetes - And that irked me.
Not the prevention part (OK, some of the prevention part,) but what really irked me was the whole “preventing diabetes is as easy as walking,”vibe that was being given off.
I think we can all agree that exercise helps with all sorts of stuff, including blood sugars - But diabetes in all it's forms isn't so cut and dry.  

I couldn’t have prevented my type 1, and I have a whole boatload of friends with t1, t1.5 & t2 who couldn’t have prevented their diabetes either. 

And I’m a walker - Always have been. I walk for my body and my mind - not to mention my ass. 

So I emailed the PR Person back with my number and he gave me call a few minutes later. 

I basically told him that I couldn’t walk away from my type 1 diabetes and neither could my t1, t1.5 and t2 family couldn’t either. That people with diabetes are more often than not blamed for having diabetes - And that IMHO, the phrase ‘walking away from diabetes’ makes the majority of the public think that having diabetes is a choice and a character flaw - And it is neither.
I mentioned that diabetes is complex and if walking allowed us to be free of diabetes, we’d all walk from New Jersey to China without stopping or complaining & mentioned the fact that t2 has a strong genetic link.  
The phrase, 'once a PWD, always a PWD' crossed my lips, and then I shared that all sorts of problems occur when people stop thinking their diabetes (t2 or otherwise,) is no longer an issue. 

 And if they were going to present a campaign based on one of their studies re: diabetes and during Diabetes Awareness Month, they should strongly consider a study that was done on people currently living with diabetes and use a title for the campaign that doesn’t perpetuate diabetes myths and stereotypes.

PR guy said they were looking for all sorts of diabetes tales, not just type 2, and that they'd make some changes and he thanked me for talking with him.

Today I received an email saying that changes had been made to the websites original wording - And to their credit, they did make some changes . 
They used the term “diabetes prevention” more and they gave the prevention part a type 2 slant. 
But that still didn't sit all with me because I still felt that people with t2 were being blamed. 
There was no mention of genetics and type 2 or how type 2s (just like other people living with diabetes) are not one size fits all.
I know so many people with type 2 who refuse to come out of the 'Diabetes Closet' because they are afraid of the stigmas associated with type 2 - And my heart aches for them.

As for me, I’m going to keep walking and running towards others with diabetes in all dimensions - And I will continue to walk for my health, (both mental and physical) as well as my ass. 

But I can't walk away from diabetes. 


Joanne said...

I love your spirit and fight for advocacy... I love how you are not afraid to speak up and speak your mind.

I get emails like that too, and while the thought of emailing them back like you do crosses my mind, I'm embarrassed to say that I usually hit the delete button. Because the truth is, I'm kinda burnt out.

Glad that there are people like you to pick up the slack!

Anonymous said...

Very well said. The first ADA Step Out event I attended had several speakers giving the "By exercising and eating right you too can get off insulin" speeches. How can we expect the general public to learn to look past the stereotypes when organizations dedicated to diabetes perpetuate them?

k2 said...

Thanks Joanne!
I get being burned out - I think we've all been there - Acctually, I know we have!

Runningwithinsulin -
I like the Step Out Events - I can't blame the ADA for some speakers speaking out of turn - But I get why the speakers words annoyed you!

The PR pitch this post was about was from a big University who does all sorts of health studies - the fact that academia was behind just made me even crazier when I received it!
Kelly K

StephenS said...

Thanks for answering back the PR folks at that university. Hopefully, they'll thoughtfully consider your reaction the next time they sponsor an initiative.

Anonymous said...

I know all sorts of yours of diabetics (including myself), and I can't tell you how much that this peeves me. I mean, seriously, how hard is it to realize that type 2 diabetes can't always be prevented? That most of the time you just get diabetes, period. If you're going to do a campaign on diabetes, you might as well actually KNOW something about it in the first place. Thank you for writing this, I can relate to a lot of it, but specifically the walking part.