Friday, March 14, 2014

An Open Letter to Parents of Children with Type 1 Diabetes


It is a terrible terrible thing.

Especially when it is for something that we have little control over.

When our children were diagnosed, I know, buried deep inside all of us, there was shame.  Shame that our children would have this word attached to them for the rest of their lives.


But then the doctors explained to us that it was autoimmune.  That it “wasn’t our fault.”  That it “wasn’t their fault.”

So we made it our battle cry.

“It isn’t anyone’s fault!  It is autoimmune!  It isn’t Type 2 Diabetes!”

“Because when you have Type 2 Diabetes…it is your fault.”

Ok.  Maybe we didn’t say that last line.  But we imply it all of the time.

To save face for our children and our families we throw other families under the bus.

I don’t think we realize we are doing it sometimes.  I understand that in almost every case we are simply defending the people that are most precious to us.  We are mother bears, HEAR. US. ROAR…that it isn’t Type 2.

I’m not implying that D parents need to bear the cross of the Type 2 Community.  And I’m certainly not implying the entire culture of shame is our fault, because certainly society as a whole, including the medical community and the media have projectile vomited blame and shame all over the words “Type 2 Diabetes.”

Maybe it’s not our fault, and maybe it’s none of our business.  Yet.  What if someone we love and care for deeply does get Type 2 Diabetes?  What then?

Are you going to shame them and tell them it is entirely their fault?  Are you going to sit back and watch them get brushed aside by the medical system while their bodies are damaged and ruined by this disease?

Shame stops people from talking about things.

Shame stops people from advocating for themselves.

Shame makes people HIDE their condition. 

Shame makes us destroy ourselves, not help ourselves.

Imagine a world where someone could get a diagnosis, and instead of doctors telling them to stop stuffing food in their mouths, they were given specific battle plans, the correct tools to help, and more than anything…empathy.  Empathy and understanding.

Imagine a person telling their friends they have Type 2 Diabetes, and their friends knowing how devastating a diagnosis it is, and instead of blaming, saying, “What can I do to help?  What can I learn?  I’m so sorry, I know how scary this is for you.”

Nearly 10% of the entire US population has diabetes, including over 25% of seniors.  Chances are you know plenty of people with Type 2 Diabetes, and you have no idea, because they are in the closet.  Also, according to the CDC over 36% of Adults in the U.S. are obese.  But yet, only 10% of The U.S. population has Type 2.  There is obviously more to the story.

The fact is, people with Type 2 can do all the right things, and STILL have diabetes.  Losing weight and becoming healthy doesn’t always change things for them.  We are finding out now that there are many other factors that can contribute to Type 2.  Not just weight.  Not even always weight.  I know many very thin people with Type 2. Maybe people can change their lifestyle and are able to use less medication, but they are on medication none the less, and still run the risk of complications.

Bennet wrote THIS completely enlightening article.  In it he points out the astronomical Emergency Room costs due to hypo episodes with people with Type 2.  These staggering numbers show that the Type 2 Population isn’t getting the care and attention they need.  They aren’t educated properly on their meds, instead they're told, “Watch your diet, lose weight, and take this extremely complicated medicine that we are going to pretend isn’t complicated at all.  Now go away.”  And sure, there are millions who go home and don’t take their meds.  Why?  Two possible theories:  They are ashamed, in denial and want to pretend it isn’t happening.  And also because they weren’t told exactly what is going on in their bodies, like what high blood sugars are actually doing to their systems. They aren’t given an entire team like our children are.  Many don’t even get to see an endocrinologist.

But I digress.  If we can’t be sympathetic to the plight of those with Type 2, maybe we can find a way to not throw that population to the lions.  Maybe we can simply state that Type 2 is Metabolic and Type 1 is Autoimmune.  Maybe we can explain that out of all the people with Diabetes out there, those with Type 1 only make up about 5% of that population.  That we are a little different than other types of diabetes.  And go from there.

Because if you think your outlook isn’t going to make a difference, you are wrong.  One person CAN make a difference.

I'm not pointing fingers here.  I was just as guilty in the shaming department years ago.  But then I met people with Type 2.  Brave, amazing people who burst out of the closet and said, "This disease isn't all that it seems.  It is much harder than it looks.  I'm doing my best but my journey is hard."  And now I call these people my friends and I'm learning things I had no idea about.  Shocking things that completely threw my entire diabetes theology for a loop.

People with Type 2 Diabetes are PEOPLE.  They have feelings.  They are wonderful, human people doing the best they can with what they’ve got.

Our children are not better than them.

We can’t make the people with Type 2 the martyr for our children’s disease.

It isn’t right.

Let’s help put out the fires of shame by changing our outlook.

Think of the Type 2 Community as our neighbors.  Let’s tear down the fences instead of fortifying them with barbed wire.

With all sincerity, 

(This post inspired by Sara’s post HERE and Mike’s post HERE.)


Post a Comment

Design by Free WordPress Themes | Bloggerized by Lasantha - Premium Blogger Themes | Lady Gaga, Salman Khan