Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Stem the Tide



November is National Diabetes Awareness Month. It’s a month when advocates try to raise awareness of diabetes, more so than the rest of the year. November is exhausting. Either you bust your gut trying to do more, advocate more, plead more, educate more…just more. Or, you do your usual thing, feeling a bit guilty that you’re not doing more. Maybe you don’t participate at all. Damned if you do, etc.

I’m always impressed by how certain people have a seemingly inexhaustible supply of advocacy energy. I wax and wane when it comes to my advocacy…and housework. Lately I’ve noticed more and more of my DOC friends mentioning that they’re a bit burned out. It makes me shout “me too!” but it also makes me sad. It reminds me of life in a small town: the same group of people are the ones who support Little League, do all the church work, organize bake sales for PTA and are scout leaders. Eventually they burn out and it’s left to someone else to pick up the reins. I’ve watched it happen here where I live and I know that it repeats itself across the country and the world. The DOC isn’t much different than a small town. It’s not surprising that people burn out; their throats sore from shouting into the wind. 

Those of us who have diabetes are very aware of it. We want others to be aware of it too so that perceptions can change, funding can increase and myths can be busted. The thing is that people don’t pay much attention to someone else’s disease unless it affects them directly. Why should they? Their lives are filled with things that matter to them and may not have the time/energy to truly care about diabetes. So why advocate? Why raise our voices to educate and inform? 

It’s hard not to be aware of diabetes these days because the media splashes the word about along with images of fat people and dire warnings of doom and gloom: lost limbs, blindness and worse. I mean, after all, it is an epidemic!!!!! This “epidemic” is mostly portrayed as something that can be prevented if we would just eat less and move more. That is insulting to all people with diabetes because it just ain’t true; not for any type of diabetes. It’s also dangerous for people who may someday be diagnosed. They may think that it won’t happen to them if they “just avoid sugar” and park at the far end of the lot. Usually the word epidemic scares people and might actually push them to do something. But the diabetes “epidemic” doesn’t seem to cause this panic. I think that’s because it’s felt that diabetes can be prevented and it’s our own damn fault. It won’t happen to me, surely, because…well, just because! 

This is why I continue to advocate for people with diabetes. 

Does being an advocate mean that I have to constantly work at changing people’s perspectives, harangue politicians to enact important medical legislation and write a blog? Does it mean that I have to up my advocacy efforts in November? Nope. I do what I can, when I can. Advocacy doesn’t have to be this big thing, it can simply be a matter of showing your friends and family what life with diabetes is like, with all its warts. 

I join my voice with others who advocate for people with diabetes. Together we can be like a huge moon that will turn the tide of this disease’s perceptions and outcomes. Yeah…that’s good. I can do that no matter what the calendar says.

10 comments:

  1. Excellent post, Kate. November malaise seems to be rampant in the DOC this year. For me I think it is the result of so many advocacy campaigns being added almost weekly in the last couple of months. It's great that people have these great ideas, but none of the older DOC projects ever seem to ever go away. So adding a lot of new stuff to things I'm already involved in is overwhelming. Like you, I refuse to feel guilty and I'll just keep movin' on.

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    1. Thanks Laddie. We just need to do what we can; what feels right. I so appreciate your advocacy, voice and friendship.

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  2. Haven't finished reading but already copying favorite lines like:
    I wax and wane when it comes to my advocacy…and housework.
    “me too!” (I just used this in a comment on sugabetic.me!)
    Because of T2's like you - who take the time to write about Type 2 - I was able to convince my brother that yes, he could do this. And you know what? He did do it!
    So - Yay! You!!

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    1. Oh Colleen, you just made my week/month/year! It's great to hear that my words may have helped someone else. Thank you. Now, let's get started on that "Housework Awareness Campaign". ;-)

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  3. Kate - there are still capcha codes... Colleen

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    1. Really? There shouldn't be. I'll check it out. Thanks!

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  4. Twenty precent of the people do eighty percent of the work. That seems to hold true in most things. I'm glad there are advocates out there working hard. They don't get enough recognition.

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  5. Great post. Thanks for adding your voice to the community. You are an amazing advocate!

    And I'll bet your house is cleaner than mine...

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    1. Thanks Stephen, and I won't take that bet because I'd surely lose! ;-)

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  6. Thanks Kate! I appreciate all you do and especially this blog!

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