Last night, I had a chance to attend the premier of Discovery Health’s documentary, Diabetes: A Global Epidemic, held at the Museum of Natural History in NYC. The documentary follows former American Diabetes Association president and head of the Center for Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Fran Kaufman, around the globe as she visits different countries and explores their ways of managing diabetes.
The documentary itself was very interesting, focusing heavily on the education aspects of diabetes management. I agree whole-heartedly that education is completely necessary in dealing with diabetes – I can’t count how many times people have said to me, “You have diabetes? Aren’t you a little young / old / thin / for your disease?” Although it wasn’t the focus of the film, the fact that people aren’t educated about the different types of diabetes continues to amaze me, considering how diabetes doesn’t discriminate and affects so many.
It also frustrates the hell out of me. I’ve written before about how being perceived as “healthy” makes me fear that my disease isn’t worth the effort to cure. “You look healthy,” they say. And they’re right. I feel healthy, too. What they’re not seeing is the effort that it takes to remain healthy. These well-meaning strangers don’t see my midnight blood sugar checks. They don’t see the furrow of worry on my mother’s face when she talks to me about my future children. They didn’t watch me slip on my little black dress last night, only to have the pump impossible to negotiate in the folds of my dress. The public responds fiscally to a six year old with tears in her eyes, but a seemingly-healthy twenty something doesn’t garner much fundraising.
It all sounds insignificant sometimes, whining “Where, oh where, will I stash my insulin pump that I am so lucky to have access to in the first place?” but I find myself feeling angry and frustrated at the lack of progress being made at times. I’ve been very fortunate to have access to a glucose meter in my home for almost my entire diabetic life. I’ve had access to the pumping technology for almost four years. For all intents and purposes, I am a very lucky woman. I have a good life.
But there are days when the frustrations rise up and I can’t swallow them down. Watching all these media events leading up to World Diabetes Day and seeing how much people are trying to raise awareness of what life is like with diabetes … this effect could be staggering. And empowering. The effects of these events could reach into the consciousness of our whole society and change perceptions, change intentions .. change the very tides.
For those of us living with diabetes, we know what it’s like. Our awareness is already raised.
Now give us our research. Give us our technology. Give us our cure.