It happened again. Big surprise. A comedian tried to be funny and diabetes was the punchline. He doesn’t care that it upsets those of us with diabetes and neither do most of the people on this planet, unless they are touched by diabetes. Of course, our community is up in arms and shouting to the world that sugar doesn’t cause diabetes and it certainly isn’t sweet to live with this disease. I get it. It always pisses me off too but it makes me angrier when some folks in the T1 community throw those of us with T2 under the bus, yet again. You’d think they would be more compassionate. Yeah right. You know what? I’m beginning to think that my ability to be appalled and outraged has been depleted. (I blame this on the political climate.) I find that I don’t care either.
Before you get all “But Kate, we have to fight back!”. Do we? Really? What do we gain from yelling at comedians who don’t give a flying flip? I kinda think we look like a bunch of whiners. I get the need to defend your child who is ill with a horrible disease that they didn’t cause. I get the need to defend yourself when others point fingers at you and blame you for developing a horrible disease that isn’t your fault. I get it. I do. But maybe we are railing against the wrong people. Maybe our methods need fine-tuning. Maybe our energies need to be focused on where they will count.
Who needs to care that sugar doesn’t cause any type of diabetes? People who actually have diabetes or are in danger of developing it. Kids with T1 need to know the facts and be able to arm themselves against the bullshit. They need to know how their insulin works with the foods they eat so they can be healthy. They need to know not to feel guilty or ashamed when the stigma is thrown at them. People with T2 or pre-diabetes need to understand that it isn’t just sugar that gives them blood glucose issues. They need to be taught how to check their blood glucose and make changes to their lifestyle in order to keep things under control. They need education…BIG TIME. (I have a friend with pre-diabetes who had no idea that crackers with sugar free jelly before bed might cause her issues.) They need to realize that diabetes can progress and they have to stay vigilant. They also need to understand that the stigma is bullshit and to stand tall in the face of bullies and well-meaning people. Who else? Our elected officials. The people who make laws pertaining to healthcare etc. Those people need to know that diabetes isn’t self-inflicted and that we don’t deserve this crap. Heck, even healthcare providers need to understand diabetes better! The rest of the world doesn’t care and I’m not convinced that they need to.
I am not the type to stay silent and I don’t think our community should either. I just think that our message needs a little tweaking. I’ve been trying the more subtle, less angry approach when replying to idiots online who spout nonsense or hurtful things. “You are allowed your opinion but the facts are that diabetes is a very complex disease and the person who develops it is not to blame.” “Too many highly processed carbs can be just as damaging as sugar. Have YOU eaten a lot of pizza in your life?” “I understand that you’re angry on behalf of your T1 child but could you please stop blaming those of us with T2? We don’t deserve that either.” I feel better using this approach and it works in real life too. It seems to take the wind out of sails and doesn’t start an argument that no one is going to win. (Although I’m still apt to vent/spew venom on my own FB or Twitter pages. That is a safe place.)
When we do fund raising we should definitely try to educate the masses in order for them to understand our plight a little better and, hopefully, donate. We shouldn’t stop trying to educate but I think our efforts would be better served if we stopped YELLING AT THE WORLD! Think about this: You’re walking down the street and there is a person collecting donations for diabetes research. They are calm, pleasant and equipped with informational pamphlets. Or. You’re walking down the street and there is a person collecting donations for diabetes research and they are screaming at you that it isn’t our fault and what baby deserves a million needles! Who do you suppose will collect the most donations? Food for thought.