A couple of weeks ago, my feathers were are ruffled about the latest, inappropriate, diabetic joke approved by NBC.
Since I've been talking about this to most anyone that will listen, I have been asked many times WHY am I picking this fight? Why can't I just let it roll off me like water on a duck's back?
My response to that: I am NOT a duck.
Yes.... I have the ability to choose my battles. But some battles are so clandestine, that not many are bothered by them. There is a poem from long ago, sort of reminds me of this issue. Well, at least from my perspective (please note, my referencing to this poem is in no way trivializing the original plight):
"First they came for the communists
But I did not speak out because I was not a communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists
But I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews
But I did not speak out because I was not Jewish.
Then they came for the Catholics
But I did not speak out because I was Protestant.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me."
So I will say it again: I am STILL offended by this joke.
Would I have been offended if our home wasn't invaded in 2010 by type 1 diabetes? Probably not. I'm big enough of a person to admit to that. But it was..... and on 08/09/10 my world as I knew it shifted on it's axis. Never to return to the previous balance it once knew.
So WHY this battle? Because I am determined to make this world a better place for both my children, and most certainly my sweet type 1 diabetic child (soon to be 8 years old). Because if we believe bullying in the schools needs to be addressed, then television networks have to recognize when one of their jokes crosses the line to ridicule.
I do NOT want to raise my children to never stand up and say "enough". I do NOT want to raise my children as though they are just one sheep amongst a flock. How am I to do that? By standing up when I feel it's necessary and saying "enough". By giving them a tangible demonstration of a voice. By speaking out for others.
Since my last post.... Paula Deen has announced to the world that she is a type 2 diabetic. I was surprised by how much disrespect was hurled her way after admitting to that. Whether it be because people felt that she didn't admit it soon enough, or now had a pharmaceutical sponsor, or that she had brought it all on herself with her style of cooking.
This is what I do not understand about diabetes in the world.....
If your mother developed melanoma? Would you tell her she brought it on herself? If your neighbour lost their jobs and homes.... would you tell them they brought it on themselves? How about a battered woman.... did SHE bring it on herself?
Yet somehow, it is acceptable to do so with a diabetic diagnosis. Why do WE as the people, feel it is socially acceptable to comment on ANYBODY'S diagnosis, regardless of what it may be?
Many of you know that there is an epic difference between the development of type 1 and type 2 diabetes. For those who don't..... type 1 is an auto-immune disease. Non-preventable. Non-curable. It is theorized that many type 1 diabetics experienced a viral infection 6-8 weeks prior to the onset of type 1 diabetes. There is no way of knowing this is happening, nor is there anyway of stopping it. My child did not develop type 1 diabetes because she ate too many smarties, or drank too much juice. She did not develop type 1 diabetes because she didn't exercise enough.
Now type 2 diabetes can be a lifestyle disease, but genetics also play a large part in the development of the condition. Type 2 diabetes can at times be managed with diet and exercise. Other times, insulin may be necessary.
The main difference between type 1 and type 2 is that a pancreas in the person living with type 1 diabetes has stopped creating insulin. People living with type 2 may still be creating insulin, but not always enough. A type 1 person is dependent on insulin, whether that be from a syringe, an insulin pen, or an insulin pump. There pancreas will NEVER again create insulin.
Now while the development of type 1 and type 2 can be very different, the consequences of mismanagement are very much the same. This includes: high blood pressure, yeast infections, nerve damage, heart disease and stroke, kidney failure, diabetic ulcers (open sores), diabetic retinopathy, etc, etc, etc (some days it seems the complications are unending).
I've said it before, and I will repeat myself. Sometimes it seems from my perspective that diabetes is the ugly-duckling of all health epidemics. Part of this, is the willingness for ridicule diabetics and the possible complications.
But there are 346 MILLION people in the world living with various forms of diabetes. 346 MILLION!!!! With numbers like that, they are essentially a demographic unto themselves. So WHY on earth would a television network choose to alienate them? Why on earth would their advertisers WANT to invest tens of thousands of dollars with a network that risks alienating it's viewers?
And WHY are we, whether we ourselves are diabetic, or the loved one of a diabetic, WHY are we willing to be complacent and let this "humor" continue?
I'm not against diabetic jokes by any means. But jokes are to make light of something. Poking fun at the darkest fears that have been known to keep me awake at night, is not making light of it in anyway, shape or form. Joke with me about the JOURNEY of managing diabetes (regardless of the type). Make light of the struggle to balance this insidious disease. Respect us. Inspire us. Don't kick us when we're possibly on our way down.
The good news is? The Centre For Disease Control reports a dramatic drop(65%) in diabetic amputations in the last decade. From 11 in 1000 in 1996 having feet or legs amputated, reduced to 4 in 1000 having feet or legs amputated in 2008. But non-injury-related amputation rates were still eight times higher among those with diabetes than adults without the disease. But the numbers are still there, and in 2006, about 65,700 non traumatic lower-limb amputations were performed in people with diabetes. I doubt they would find NBC's jokes about amputations funny.
I don't hear NBC making jokes about masectomies. So why are diabetic amputations still fair-game? I don't see much of a difference. Different disease: yes. Having a body part cut off because of the disease: yes.... still the same.
The jokes will continue to exist until we speak loudly enough to capture the attention of television networks.
I invite you to check out our movement.... where you will also find the "joke" in question. NBC 346 Million People Deserve An Apology!
Thank you very much for your time in reading this post.
Wishing you good health, and coopertive blood glucose numbers!
Woman.... Artist.... Mother.... Advocate.... Artificial Pancreas.... and everything in between!