It happened again. And on World Diabetes Day too.
That whole Type vs. Type argument raised its ugly head. Makes me sad. It doesn’t matter who started it. It matters that it keeps happening. This divisive argument usually goes like this: somehow this Type is diabetes and doesn’t want to be associated with that Type. People should know the difference! People should stop saying stupid stuff about diabetes. Names should be changed! Then people can say that stupid stuff about the Type they are referring to (and not my Type of diabetes). If that Type gets attention/research/treatments then my Type won’t. Mom always liked you better!
Somehow I can’t imagine people with rheumatoid arthritis people calling out people with osteoarthritis for a proverbial rumble in the parking lot. Different things cause each of them. Each has its own pathology and treatments. And still it’s all arthritis.
Every time the Type vs. Type argument starts again I have only one thought: It needs to stop…NOW.
The Parable of the Prodigal Son is one version of this plot. The young son, after receiving his share of inheritance, ventures out into the world only to squander his fortune and return home broke and hungry. His father welcomes him back without reproach. In fact the father celebrates his son’s return.
I hear this story told by people who had a “wild youth” despite living with diabetes or people who “didn’t take care of” their diabetes. During this phase of their life they lived recklessly, not tending to their health. Perhaps they were stopped actively monitoring their blood sugar and flew blind. Or they binged on carbohydrate-rich foods only to purge it from their bodies after. Some manipulated their care regime to cover for extremes in their eating behavior.
The lucky ones live to tell the tale without any obvious side effects or complications. It’s amazing how resilient the human body can be, even when it’s not 100% healthy.
But for many people with diabetes there is no welcoming father to celebrate their return afterward. There is only the reproachful brother who wonders why we should celebrate and ignore past transgressions. That reproachful brother takes the form of guilt and fear and there is no escape. Because, you see, that reproachful brother lives within the person with diabetes.
It’s like we never left in the first place.
Voyage & Return is one of the seven basic plots identified by Christopher Booker in his book The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories. This week I am looking at life with diabetes through the prism of these seven basic plots.
The quest is a heroic tale of treasure recovered and enemies vanquished.
The ultimate quest, of course, is for the cure. The thing that will end the suffering. The thing that will restore the treasure of good health.
This quest has not met its heroic conclusion for people with diabetes.
So people with diabetes end up on lesser paths. Not able to pursue the cure on his or her own, the goal becomes better blood glucose management, or getting a medical device, or avoiding complications.
The obstacles faced are purely man made. Doctors who need to be persuaded. Insurance companies that need to be convinced. The self who needs to be committed. It can feel like the 12 labors of Hercules. As soon as one hurdle is cleared, another appears. And in a cruel twist of fate, just as the finish line is within view, just one more obstacle appears needing to be handled.
For people with diabetes, it’s the never ending quest.
The Quest is one of the seven basic plots identified by Christopher Booker in his book The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories. This week I am looking at life with diabetes through the prism of these seven basic plots.
That’s the ultimate rags-to-riches story for people with diabetes and their loved ones.
Somehow. Somewhere. There’s that thing that will right the wrong of a faulty pancreas. Just fix that and you will have that one thing that people say really matters: your health. After all, you don’t have anything if you don’t have your health.
But there is no cure.
Right now there are experimental treatments and proof-of-concept devices. Transplants. Stem cells. An artificial pancreas. Steps in the right direction—we think. But, so far, no permanent fix.
So what are the rags-to-riches stories told by people by diabetes?
They mostly involve getting access to a medical device and getting the insurance company to pay for it. Most often it’s a CGM (continuous glucose monitor) or a pump. Devices that promise to make managing blood glucose easier, more accurate, more effective—more like a well-functioning pancreas.
But after the honeymoon, the reality sets in. These devices are one more thing to manage. These devices are not perfect. These devices are not a cure.
Rags to Riches is one of the seven basic plots identified by Christopher Booker in his book The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories. This week I am looking at life with diabetes through the prism of these seven basic plots.
This is the story I think we’d all, whether living with diabetes or not, like to tell.
Triumph over adversity. Victory in the face of defeat. Thriving in spite of illness.
This is the story many of us fear we won’t be able to tell. That big, bad, dark monster is just too strong. Try as we might we cannot control it. We might not even be able to manage life with it very well. We don’t have the power or the skill. Too much is unknown. Too much is variable. Ultimately, we all will die, whether it’s attributed to diabetes or not.
Trying to live this story can be very painful because along with triumph and victory we think we need perfection. Life with diabetes is anything but perfect. Out of this pain sprouts frustration. Then the question becomes who or what do we aim that frustration at? The doctor? The disease? Ourselves?
Overcoming the Monster is one of the seven basic plots identified by Christopher Booker in his book The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories. This week I am looking at life with diabetes through the prism of these seven basic plots.