A Dog with a Flappy Hat and a Pipe Can Only Mean One Thing ...
With all the discussion about a name change for type 1 diabetes, I laughed out loud when I saw this pop up in my Twitter feed (courtesy of the Type 1 Diabetes Memes Facebook page). Serves as an answer anyone in the DOC could give:
I've thought about the name change discussion, and I've been trying to figure out what my opinion on it is. You'd think a person who has had type 1 diabetes for a long time would have an opinion, right? One that jumps out and smacks me in the face with its conviction? Nope. I have to be completely honest: I don't really care if the name is changed. Or if it's not changed. I have a surprising amount of apathy about this whole issue.
My diabetes has been classified, in one file or another, as "brittle." And "IDDM." And "juvenile." And "type 1." None of these classifications have made the public understand jack about my disease. It's been the dizzying combination of advocacy groups, patient grassroots efforts, PR efforts, and research advancements (just a few in the long list of contributing factors) that has given society any kind of knowledge about the disease that I have lived with most of my life.
Growing up with type 1 diabetes, I didn't understand that there was a different kind I could have. I had no concept of type 2 (or NIDDM, at the time) diabetes, or gestational diabetes. As far as I knew, anyone who had diabetes didn't make any of their own insulin, and they all went to Clara Barton Camp. If I didn't have diabetes, I wouldn't know much about it. Isn't that the way things like this work? I don't have an acute understanding of other health conditions because I'm not managing them on a day-to-day basis, but I do try to have an extra level of respect for people who are dealing with different health issues, regardless of type or origin. It wasn't until I was older - much older, like in my 20s, that I had a strong understanding of the different types of diabetes, and even now, it's a constant process of learning. And it wasn't until that same time that I also developed a sense of how society views diabetes - as a disease they think is preventable, and that it's what "fat, lazy people get."
Is this stereotype true, or fair? No. But it's what society thinks, and in my opinion, a name change isn't going to immediately peel back that layer of frustrating ignorance. It's what we all do, as people touched by diabetes either through community or employment or passion ... or a combination of the three, that WILL change society's perception and understanding of diabetes. That's why we have the JDRF, and the ADA, and the Diabetes Online Community, and a lot of et ceteras.
A lot of the posts that have touched on this name-change issue have some very well-thought out opinions on their support of the petition, or lack of support for this petition. (See Lee Ann, Manny, Amy, Bennet, Wil, Sir Bob, and the comments in the actual petition, for starters.) I wish I had their strong convictions on this topic. In my opinion, signing doesn't mean you're embracing an angry and stubborn "us and them" stance, just as not signing doesn't erase decades of stereotypes and misconceptions across the board. We, as a community, have talked about name changes before. There was a piece on Diabetes Health that tackled the name-change petition, and a commenter on there let loose with a sentence that pretty much summed the whole mess up for me:
"What we need more than anything else is an understanding in the general public that diabetes is a disease, not a character failure." - Diabetes Health commenter Don M
Signing the petition will take a few minutes. Not signing it will take no time at all. Either way, YOU get to decide what you want to do. The reason there are so many voices in this community is because so many voices are necessary - diabetes is not the same for any of us, regardless of type, or age, or A1C. The diabetes community is diverse enough and hopefully mature enough to handle this kind of discussion without going so painfully apeshit.
And once you decide to or not to sign a petition, or to give a crap entirely about any of this kind of thing, mark the moment by dancing wildly in your kitchen for twenty minutes, because exercising is something you can do right now to have a positive impact on your diabetes management. How about a petition to make us all exercise our bodies as much as we run our mouths? :)