Diabetes =/= Leprosy

So, this is a rant. Just in case you didn’t see that coming, or in case you want to get out of the way.

All these bloody-minded bigots need to get off their fucking high horses, remove the Stick of Entitlement from their colons, and stop acting like diabetes is the new leprosy.

Everywhere I turn, there’s something new about how [x] contributes to poor health and obesity, which contributes to diabetes. There are articles about miracle cures for diabetes, or about how product [q] will suddenly, magically bring your diabetes under fabulous control. There are articles about how diabetics are clogging up the health care system, costing taxpayers ginormous amounts of money, and all because they couldn’t do the decent thing and lose the goddamn weight already. There are articles that shame people for being fat, for eating sugar, for eating meat, for smoking, and a hundred other things using the spectre of diabetes as a scare tactic.

Fucking stop it.

Because for starters, you’re actually lumping two diseases together and making everyone think it’s the same damn thing. The kind of diabetes that’s being talked about in most of these articles, regarding most of these miracle cures and products, that revolves so much around weight it makes me sick, is actually Type II Diabetes. And Type II and Type I are not the same thing.

There is this general feeling that those with diabetes did this to themselves — they are guilty for their own failing health, because they couldn’t give up sugar, or lose that weight, or do what their doctor told them. And while there is a certain amount of personal responsibility involved with Type II diabetes, that argument completely ignores a crucial fact: in order to develop diabetes, you have to possess a genetic predisposition to it. And no one, anywhere, is a big enough dick (I hope) to believe that you can control how your genetic material is expressed.

Now, a word about Type I: it is scary as fuck. It used to be called “early onset”, where Type II was called “late onset”, but those categorizations were scrapped when people at both ends of the age spectrum began to develop both subsets of the illness. Now it is much more accurately called “insulin dependent” (Type I) and “non-insulin dependent” (Type II) because — you guessed it — which type you have is determined by whether or not your pancreas is creating insulin. Type II diabetics still have a quasi-functional pancreas; it’s not doing well, but it can and does still function. Type II diabetes, therefore, is controlled through diet and exercise, and for some, with oral medications.

The Type I diabetics? They really get fucked. Because after the insulin-making T-cells in the pancreas shut down, the only course of treatment is insulin injections. Every. God. Forsaken. Day. Until you die. Probably of diabetic complications.

Because, yeah. No one likes to talk about those, do they? The complications. Well, unless it’s somehow the diabetic’s own fault — because, dude, if they couldn’t get a handle on their health for the sake of not losing their foot or not going blind, that is totally their own fault. Right?

If you have ever thought that, chew on this for a second: most diabetics are doing the absolute best they can, in a society that likes to blame them for something that is not their fault. A society that blames them for crushing fatigue and compromised immune systems, for dehydration and and MENSA-level complex dietary needs. For the low blood sugars that cause muscle aches and headaches and tremors, sweating and shaking and decreased brain function because the available sugar is being re-routed to the parts of the brain concerned with keeping you breathing. For the pain and hassle of daily finger-pricks and needles, the endless doctor’s appointments and round after round of blood-work. For the fact that, the younger you are when diabetes hits, the shorter your life expectancy is. Those are the quiet things, the things that no one likes to talk about. The things that affect diabetics every day of their lives — things that they don’t bother complaining about anymore, because it’s just not worth it to be met yet again with “Well, you do what you have to do, right?” at best, and “You brought it on yourself” at worst.

In case you haven’t gotten the picture yet, just wait: it gets better. Because your emotions trigger actual responses in your body in the form of hormones, and because hormones run the same endocrine pathways as insulin, having a really fucking bad day can tank your blood sugars. And there might be sweet fuck-all you can do about it. Think about that, just for a moment: think about what it’s like to feel perpetually shitty, and then to know that every time you have a stressful day at work, or a good cry, or ride a rollercoaster, you are risking blindness. Kidney failure. Hypertension. Nerve pain and nerve death. Heart attack. Stroke. Thyroid disorders. Congestive heart failure. Metabolic disorders. Liver failure. Deep vein thrombosis. Gangrene and amputation. Early death.

And, all of a sudden, just like magic, diabetics aren’t the evil, health care-crashing monsters the media paints them as, are they? We’re people. And the same way that you have the right to make bad choices and get help when those bad choices lead to icky consequences, so do we. And, just to get personal for a moment: I am a Type I diabetic, so I do, in fact, know what the blazing fuck I’m talking about. I was diagnosed as a toddler. A toddler — so don’t tell me that I brought this on myself. I wasn’t an obese child or suffering from nutritional deficiencies, and it wasn’t poor exercise habits that “brought this on”. It was genetics, pure and simple.

And when I was a kid, and even now as an adult, people like to dismiss my health issues. When I was little, my diabetes was compared to a peanut allergy. (And, I’m sorry, but no. The absolute worst that a peanut allergy can do is kill you. Diabetes can leave you blind, crippled, and trapped in a rotting shell. That is a fate I consider far worse than death.) Nowadays, people like to dismiss my struggles, saying I’m obviously not in any danger or having any problems because I’m not overweight. But just because they can’t see the daily effort that goes into making sure I’ll have a body to cruise around in 20 years from now doesn’t mean that I’m not making it.

So think before you open your mouth — you are not God, you are not all-knowing, and when it comes to this, you probably know a hell of a lot less than you think you do thanks to all the media’s bullshit. Because the aforementioned Stick of Entitlement? The next person to come at me about my diabetes with that thing lodged in their ass is going to acquainted with it in a whole new way.

<mic drop>
~

I think this goes without saying, but as we live in a world of rampant asshattery, please allow me to state for the record: this is my intellectual property. As such, please do not copy, circulate, edit, alter, take credit for, or otherwise appropriate this material without my express permission. Thank you.

 

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