What if we considered the half-empty part of diabetes to be an opportunity to fill our lives with good stuff?
Every once in a while I get asked why I think people with Type 2 diabetes aren’t as active in social media as people with Type 1. We see a strong representation of people living with Type 1 in social media. Type 1s share their daily triumphs and trials, most presenting a defiant warrior-like stance in the face of “ducking fiabetes.” When we look for the Type 2 voices in social media we find fewer and they are often muted.
I used to think it was because of the age difference. Now I’m not so sure that’s the case. There are plenty of people of all ages active in social media over all.
Another thought I’ve had is that for most people with Type 2, diabetes is not central to their sense of identity. They had a whole life before diagnosis. They didn’t grow up being told their lives would be somehow limited by this chronic disease. But now it figures largely in daily routines and visions of the future.
Lately a new theory has entered my mind. It’s the idea that we tend to look at diabetes as a glass half-empty kind of thing. Much discussion about living with Type 2 diabetes centers on all the things that have to be (or should be) taken away. Carb-heavy comfort foods. Carefree daily routines. Worry-free futures that promise good health.
The emptiness of the glass shows us what is gone, never to return. There’s a sense of loss. There’s the feeling of mourning. What will replace it? Restrictions. Complicated medicine routines. Society’s blame and shame.
But what if we chose to fill that empty part of the glass with good stuff instead?
Prediabetes? Ain’t nobody got time for that! The Ad Council’s type 2 prevention campaign misses the mark.
In the first of its kind campaign the ADA, AMA, and CDC released a series of Ad Council public service announcements aimed at preventing type 2 diabetes. The campaign is called So…Do I Have Prediabetes?
Boy did they miss the mark.
The campaign takes on a snarky tone. Now, I’ve been known to enjoy a snarky joke as much as the next person. But this snark is aimed at the patient, that just adds to the blame and shame people living with diabetes, especially type 2 diabetes, already face.
You eat bacon? Well, don’t. It’s a variation on the “Eat 100 candy bars and what do you get?” joke. We’ve all heard the punch line: Diabetes!
Only, it’s not true and it’s hateful. And when people feel blamed for their health or shamed for their behavior that disempowers them to change. Don’t believe that? Listen to what the research of Jane K. Dickinson, CDE has to say.
And what if you’re a busy mom?
Well, this busy mom doesn’t appreciate the sentiment. Yeah, busy-ness is a common excuse. I’ll cop to using it myself once or twice. Okay! I used it for about a million years while I was in pre-diabetes.
The doctor’s response to the patient saying she’s a busy mom made me think of this:
Lucy van Pelt pulling the football away at the last moment yet again and the ever trusting Charlie Brown taking a tumble mid-kick.
I don’t want my doctor to be paying a cruel joke on me. And I don’t want to end up the looser in this scenario.
But more damning is the image that comes to my mind when I reflect on what the busy mom says. Her distress is real. And yet her words come off more like this:
Afrezza, in case you don’t know, is a fast-acting insulin that is inhaled. Look ma, no needles! Instead of a needle poke you take several deep breaths. That has a certain appeal among the people getting poked.
Afrezza had become the poster child for the complexities of introducing a new treatment to the market. It was proven effective. It received FDA approval. Doctors and patients were educated about its benefits and limitations; Afrezza can’t be used by people with asthma or lung ailments. But was Afrezza being stocked by pharmacies? And, more importantly, was it added to any of the payer formularies? Meaning, would any health insurance companies pay for it?
Success in pharma requires every step in the process of introducing a new treatment be successful. Afrezza was oh so close.
Meanwhile, every person using insulin continues to to poke themselves…daily…several times.
Have a #yogurt! It’s good and it also helps reduce T2 #Diabetes risk… Oh, really?
A couple of months ago, during #DiabetesAwarenessMonth, I saw a tweet from @YogurtNutrition. It said:
Have a #yogurt! It’s good and it also helps reduce T2 #Diabetes risk…
Oh really? I need to find out more about this. So I asked:
What kind of #yogurt might help reduce #T2 #diabetes? Plain? Greek? Lo fat? Flavored?
After all there are a lot of different kinds of yogurt out there. Some even have more sugar than ice cream! So clearly, not all yogurts would be a good choice when managing type 2 diabetes. The response was:
@SpinningDPlates results were observed on yogurt as a food category. Thus there is no specific recommendation to answer you question.
I don’t fault @YogurtNutrition for doing it’s job, which is to promote yogurt. But I do fault it for presenting incomplete and potentially misleading information about the health benefits of a particular food.
Each time I share my views as a person living with diabetes it’s as if I tossed a small stone into a pond, generating ripples of change.
Looking back at 2015, one word comes to mind when I think of my life with diabetes: advocate.
I thought about and discussed advocacy a lot during this past year. Who is a diabetes patient advocate? The patient him or herself? Anyone who cares about people living with diabetes? Where does advocacy take place? In the doctor’s office? On Capital Hill? Which issue is most important to advocate for? Easy and affordable access to treatments and medical devices? A cure?
The answer to all of these questions is “Yes.”
Being an advocate and engaging in advocacy is all of these things, and so much more. Each conversation has the potential to change a person’s view of life with diabetes. Each doctor’s visit has the potential to improve the treatment that the next patient receives, and the next, and the next… Each letter written has the potential to influence the work of policymakers.
It’s as if every time a person speaks up for the rights and needs of people living with diabetes a stone is tossed into a pond, generating a ripple of change.