I am NOT a doctor, dietician or expert. Do I know everything there is to know about diabetes? Heck no, but I do know what it’s like to live with it.
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,
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.