Monday, May 12, 2014

Change the World!





I’m so pleased to be participating again in the Diabetes Blog Week hosted by Karen Graffeo over at Bitter~sweet.  Every day this week I’ll be posting on a specific topic along with a ton of other diabetes bloggers.  At the end of each post I’ll give you a link where you can go and read all the other posts.  It’s a great way to find other diabetes blogs and “get to know” some other folks with diabetes.  The prompt for this first day is to talk about a cause or issue that gets us fired up.  What am I passionate about when it comes to diabetes?

Oh my, so many things to choose from!  There’s the cost of diabetes care, lack of support in the real world, bickering over whose diabetes is worse (really?).  I could go on and on.  There is one thing, however, that I feel is of the utmost importance in reining in this runaway beast called diabetes:  Education.

There are four main areas where education is needed, in my humble opinion: education for the general public, education for people who have another form of diabetes, education for our health care providers and education for people who have type 2, (Yes, people who have other types of diabetes need education too, but I have type 2 and that is my focus.)

Educating the general public would help to alleviate some of the myths surrounding diabetes.  This would not only help those of us who have the disease, think diabetes police and those who feel compelled to tell us what we need to do in order to get rid of our diabetes, but it would make the public more aware of the symptoms and, hopefully, cause them to pay better attention to their own health.

This feeds right into educating people who have diabetes, but a type other than type 2.  Yes, even people who know what it’s like to live with diabetes don’t always understand the intricacies of type 2.  No, it’s not just avoiding soda and no, we didn’t do this to ourselves.

Our health care providers need educating too?  Really?  Oh yes, really.  I’ve read too many stories of people with type 2 being dismissed, bullied, and sent out the door without proper education.  These people are told that they should lose weight and add exercise.  Many, many doctors honestly believe that people with type 2 did this to themselves, that they lack willpower, that they are non-compliant and they just need to eat better, take this pill and get on with it.  I attended a Taking Control of Your Diabetes conference where Dr. Edelman, an endocrinologist who has type 1, told us that there is about 5 minutes spent in medical school on diabetes.  Just because your doctor has a medical degree doesn’t mean that they know everything about diabetes.  Really.

But the most important group of people who need education is people who have type 2 diabetes.  This is what stirs the most passion in me.  Too many people think that type 2 diabetes isn’t that serious and all they need to do is pop a pill and they can go merrily on their way, eating whatever they want and making no changes to their lifestyle.  THIS is the one thing that will cause this epidemic to balloon into a catastrophe.  When I was diagnosed I wasn’t offered any education; no chance to meet with a CDE or nutritionist.  I was left to figure it out on my own.  That actually made me more aware and caused me to realize that it’s up to me to do this, but many, many people don’t/won’t do that.  Type 2 diabetes is a disease that gets no respect.  Sure, there are lots of warnings about the horrible things that can happen to our bodies when we have diabetes but people don’t seem to really get it.  There’s confusion over diet, there’s confusion over medications, and can we exercise or not?  So many questions and so little quality information.

When I was involved with our local support group I was continually frustrated by the apathy I observed.  People just aren’t willing to let go of the unhealthy habits that they’ve developed.  “But I can’t give up my soda!” “Gah, exercise is sooo boring.” “If I exercise, can I still eat chips?  (For the record, these are not direct quotes, but more of the general feeling I’ve seen on and off line.)

Yes folks, we have to make some difficult changes.  You can’t just pop a pill and forget that you have a very serious disease.  Well, yes you can, but I don’t recommend it.  You won’t like the outcome.  My goodness, I need to wrap this up or I’ll begin an unending rant and that wouldn’t be good.

What do I wish to see change?  I wish to see people taking ownership of their diabetes and making healthy, life-long changes.  I wish to see compassion, understanding and acceptance of people with diabetes, all types.  I wish to see doctors listening to their patients and realizing that life with diabetes isn’t simple, that we make mistakes, that we’re trying, that we’re human.  I wish to see a campaign that doesn’t just say “eat more whole grains and less junk” because that isn’t going to work.  People won’t listen.  People won’t change until they are forced to, and I wish to see that change as well.  When I read that list of wishes it can feel overwhelming; it can feel as if this is never going to happen, but it will.  It may take a while but it can change.  How?  By each of us making these changes for ourselves and then sharing that with others.  Do you overhear someone spewing a myth about diabetes?  Kindly correct them.  Does your doctor blame you for your high A1c?  Let them know, in no uncertain terms, that you are not a number and an average should not be the only thing that drives your care.  Know someone with type 2 who ignores their condition and eats poorly?  Find a way to guide them toward a healthier path.  Heck, start your own blog!!!  We need more voices.  Small changes can make a huge difference, one step at a time.

Want to read more on this topic?  Check out all the blog posts here.


5 comments:

  1. Oh that is so true, and even with diet, there are such different ideas. I did go to a dietician when I was first diagnosed and she looked at what I eat and said 'perfect" well no! I think everyone is too scared to state the hard bits. I think they had the right idea years ago when they used to say diabetics should not have sugar...now everyone tries to soften the edges too much, until you just eat anything.

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  2. I think that by educating the medical professionals, the people with T2 will also end up getting educated. It can be hard to change everything all at once, but teaching patients to take one step at a time and offering support will help the world so much more! Thanks for being so passionate about education!

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  3. Great post, and it is definitely helping to bring that education that we need!!!! Thank you for saying it all so well.

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