September 19, 2014

Responding With Sarcasm: Diabetes Edition


Tell me, what was your impression after reading the above pictures? Let me tell you how I felt. I felt embarrassed. Embarrassed for myself and embarrassed for the type 1 diabetes community. I found all of these pictures on pinterest, out there for everyone to see. Some of the basic concepts behind these pictures, I agree with. I mean, a dental hygienist did tell me recently that his cat had type 1 diabetes. Obviously, he knew what I went through every day. Which, he doesn't. To tell the truth, you usually don't know what a type 1 diabetic goes through every day unless you are one or are very close to someone who is. But, let me get to my point here...
You ask why these pictures create a sense of embarrassment in me. It's because I think they're incredibly mean! I think they are uncalled for. They demoralize people who do not have diabetes and only want to learn more about it, or are only trying their best to help. The meme about ALS also makes me mad. Type 1 diabetes is an awful disease. I'm not saying it's not, but ALS is also a very awful, debilitating disease. With ALS, there is gradual destruction of nerve cells that control motor movement. Eventually, the person can't move, but is still cognitively intact. In some ways, it is worse than type 1 diabetes. The sense of entitlement to the statement in that picture blows me away. I participated in the ALS ice bucket challenge, and I would do it over and over again. They deserve awareness just as much as the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation deserves awareness.
This is the way I look at it. I always have people asking me questions about my diabetes, people trying to relate to me when I tell them I have diabetes, people trying to make it better. I appreciate those efforts, even if they aren't on the right track. Maybe it's because I'm almost a nurse, but I take those opportunities and turn them into teaching moments. I turn them into moments where I can teach somebody about the nature of my disease instead of making fun of them for trying to understand it. They are only people who are trying to reach out to me in an impossible situation. I mean, how do you make a chronic disease better? I don't look down on people trying to learn. I don't look down on people who are only trying to help.
Now, I understand the frustration behind these pictures. Believe me, I do. And I assume that making these "funny" pictures are a way of coping with the societal implications of having diabetes. But, being sarcastic to the person whose educational level on diabetes isn't quite on the level of yours? Absolutely not. They don't live with the disease, they don't know. This society is very focused on type 2 diabetes, which is fine! Type 2 diabetics are still dealing with a disease and there is so much information out there about it. People often default to thinking I have type 2. But there are no excuses to make fun of people who only need some education about the differences.
This is my rant about these pictures on pinterest. I know this doesn't apply to most of you, but I just wanted to get it out there. Be careful about replying with sarcasm to people who truly are only trying to help and understand. Take the opportunity to educate people. And keep me accountable! I don't want to become a diabetic who responds with sarcasm and bitterness. I often respond in laughter because after having diabetes all these years, I have to find humor in the everyday struggle. I laughed about that dental hygienist comparing me to his cat, after I left, of course. But that is very different than responding with sarcasm. There's nothing I love more than being able to share my struggle with diabetes with someone else and how God has been there the whole time to pull me out of those dark places. God keeps me going. Thanks for reading!
"Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us."
-Romans 5:3-5

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