Not So Grrrrrrrreat!
Sometimes I come across odd bits of news. And often, these news bits have to do with diabetes. Last year, it was this newsflash about Santa Claus being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and how he ho-ho-ho's his way back to good health. Today, I stumbled upon a write-up about the unfortunate death of Tony the Tiger ... from type 2 diabetes complications.
Now I'm all about a laugh. Laughter is part of my genetic make-up (we have very giggly DNA) and I think that poking fun is one of my methods for dealing with difficult situations. There's LOL Diabetes, for crying out loud. I get the jokes. Often, I'm making them.
But this crap about fictional characters being diagnosed with diabetes makes me less than amused. People spend plenty of time raising awareness. Diabetes, either type 1 or type 2, is serious stuff and the consequences of not actively managing it can be devastating. Pointing the finger at Santa's jolly belly or Tony's sugar habit might bring more attention to diabetes, but it's not the right kind of attention. This sort of stuff makes diabetes the butt of jokes. Would you point your finger and laugh at someone who is dealing with cancer? Of course you wouldn't. So why would people think it's okay to mock someone who has diabetes? Because they assume a diabetic caused their own disease? Explain that to my mother and father, who dealt with my diagnosis when I was a little girl.
"Kerri, those jokes are aimed at people with type 2 diabetes. Geez, don't you know that?"
No, I don't. And how does that make it right? Regardless of the types of diabetes, the complications caused by uncontrolled blood sugars are essentially the same. And besides, most people don't know the difference between type 1 and type 2. Most people don't know there are even different types to begin with. Jokes are aimed at "diabetes" in general, and I fall into that broad category. Even if they do recognize the difference, does anyone with diabetes deserve to have the guilt, shame, or blame placed on them? Jokes aimed at them? Is it easy because the jokers assume the diabetic is also overweight? That is a horrendous excuse. How is "fatism" still an acceptable prejudice?
I watched Super Size Me the other night. During one part of the documentary, someone pointedly mentioned that "diabetes will cut 17 - 27 years off your life." The factoid crept into the part of my brain that fears diabetes-related complications. Yes, I can take every precaution to keep my A1C as tight as possible and do everything I can do avoid complications, but people don't realize that my life is already complicated by this disease.
Adding the burden of "guilt" or "shame" doesn't help.
How about more diabetes education that actually educates, instead of mocks? That would be grrrrreat.