Diabetes : A Heartfelt Perspective
Guest Post by Brenda Jones
I would like to introduce you to my dear friend Brenda.
Brenda lives with Type I Diabetes. I have been corresponding with Brenda frequently during Diabetes Awareness Month and am touched by her heartfelt perspective about her diabetes. Brenda’s perspective can, in fact, teach us a lot about what it is like to live with diabetes and in particular the differences between Type I and Type II diabetes. She recently sent me a copy of a comment she left for someone else. I believe her story is important to tell and she has agreed to let me publish it here.
Diabetes sucks … for everyone. I have Type I, recently diagnosed after a traumatic experience at the age of 46. I went onto a full diabetic coma with no signs of brain activity. My husband had to tell my kids and my family that I had less than 24 hours to live. It was a horrible experience and it all could have been avoided. How you ask?
Because I did not believe that a person of my age could get Type I Diabetes, and according to what we are all taught in the media about Type II, there is no way I could have had that either.
I am 5’3″, weight 110 pounds and run three miles a day, I eat healthy and I am in excellent physical condition, especially for a female of my age…so when I went into the ER with these symptoms…extreme thirst, throwing up every hour for the past 24 hours, recent loss of vision, loss of 13 pounds in the last ten days, extreme hunger pains, and Thrush…not even the ER docs thought of pricking my finger to check for diabetes.
I was in the ER for 10 hours before I was diagnosed, I went into a coma after I was there for only four hours. They ran cat scans, and MRI and blood tests and everything in the book, but no one bothered to give me a 50 cent finger prick test.
Why? Because I do not look like a “Person who would get type II Diabetes” and it is rare for a person my age to get Type I…So they just didn’t bother to check for it.
There is so much power behind the misconceptions of Diabetes, that even doctor’s immidiate perceptions are influenced by it.
The thing is… I knew the signs of Diabetes, People in my husband’s family have Type II and My four year old cousin has Type I.
I have auto-immune Hypothyroid, I have had it since I was 10. Luckily, it has not given me any weight problems since I started taking medication, but I do have other symptoms sometimes, especially if my dosage is off. When I got sick I assumed it was because of my thyroid. I was out of town and had run out of thyroid pills.
I guess what I really want to say is, people who are spreading information about Diabetes …Docs, journalists, etc. they need to be responsible in what they say. They need to let people know that there is more than one kind of Diabetes and that anyone can get Type I, 1.5 or II. “Anyone” can get Diabetes. There may be things that we can do for ourselves to try to prevent or lower our chances of getting it, but no one is completely immune to it no matter what you do.
People also need to understand that it is difficult to live with and stop passing judgment on any of us. Do we all stand and point fingers at smokers who get lung cancer? No, because no matter how a person gets cancer, it is still cancer and it is a horrible experience. Diabetes is pretty much the same… no matter what kind you have or how you got it.. it is not an easy thing to live with.
Diabetes would be a little easier to live with if people did not put stereo types on adults, children and parents of children with Diabetes. We all have our own story, and we are not all the same. I don’t like being judged by people who know nothing about my disease or what it is like to live with it and manage it. It hurts and sometimes it makes my angry.
Many people look at a person with diabetes and assume that we did this to ourselves. The current perception is that if you exercise and eat healthy…you can avoid ever getting it. Further, many people believe a person who has Diabetes is lazy, unhealthy, and irresponsible and that is why we are sick and get complications. There is a common misconception that we eat all of the wrong things and that we get sick because we eat too much sugar. Therefore, it is our fault.
I don’t really know whose fault it is that a person has diabetes and in all honesty…I don’t really care. What I do care about is that once a person has it, they need to have access to the knowledge and resources to help themselves! And that we spread the word accurately about diabetes so that people stop dying from it without even knowing that they have it. If we as Diabetics don’t take a stand and stop the myths and misinformation about Diabetes and help people to understand…then the way that people see us will never change and that in fact…is OUR FAULT!
I also believe everyone who has Diabetes needs to be responsible and learn about all Types of diabetes, because even many people with Diabetes do not understand that T1 and T2 are not the same disease. As people with Diabetes, we all have to know everything that we can and empower ourselves, because we are our own best defense against complications of the disease. We have to learn how to manage our own care if we want to live a full life.
Jana has been gracious enough to allow me to let my story on her blog. And I would love to share my experiences with living with Type I Diabetes. But for today…my heart is telling me to ask everyone I can reach to please, please stop believing the myths and misconceptions about Diabetes. If you know someone with Diabetes, see them as a person first and don’t judge and then take the time to let them tell you about Diabetes. And if you ever get the opportunity to participate in a fund raiser or event for diabetes awareness. Please look into your heart before you look away. Diabetes is a difficult disease and everyone with Diabetes deserves to see a cure in our lifetime. Thanks for reading this and helping to stop the myths about Diabetes.