I've been thinking about the JDRF ad, that states that 1 in 20 Type 1 diabetics will die of hypoglycemia. I'm not into arguing statistics, but it got me thinking about diabetes awareness.
So much of what we see in the media falls into 2 stories. The first, well-intended and more common, is that Type 2's caused their own diabetes by overeating and being fat couch potatoes, and that they could reverse it if they'd only stop eating the Twinkies, and get off the couch. This is not only unfair, damaging and depressing to Type 2's, who simply CANNOT be generalized to this picture, but it also creates stigma that crosses over to Type 1's, who, being a small minority of diabetics, get lots of well-meaning but totally irrelevant feedback about their diabetes.
But the second story, also well-intended, bothers me more. That is, Type 1 diabetics are super-achievers, and can do anything anyone else can, with no mention of the struggle and self-discipline that it takes even to live a "normal" life, let alone a super-star life. But we are constantly regaled by stories such as those of Dr. Natalie Strand, who won that race (although she couldn't possibly have done it without the life-saving assistance of her partner), Charlie Kimball, the race-car driver, Nick Jonas, Gary Hall, etc. But these people are the exception, not the rule.
My reaction to both these stories is that they're too
Cinderella-ish (eat right, lose weight if you have to, and exercise, and
you, too, can marry the prince!!), and not Little Match Girl enough (she died trying).
So, even though I viscerally didn't like the JDRF ad, I do know what
they were trying to do. There are those that lose the diabetes lottery
(and that includes BOTH types), but they remain vague, not translated into the experiences of real
people. And no one seems to notice how much work it takes just to live an ordinary life, day to day with diabetes, not to speak of how much harder it is for people who DO develop complications. No wonder diabetes doesn't get the support and funding that
breast cancer and AIDS do!