I'm not "Diabetic" - I'm a "DiabetesSurvivor!"

Diabetic. Insulin Dependent. Type I or Type II. Brittle. MODY. People (or Person) With Diabetes or PWD in this abbreviation crazed era.

I don't like being labeled when that only describes part of who I am. One thing that annoys me about these labels assigned to my pancreatically challenged life is that they are too clinical and don't describe the daily battles I fight. Ever notice how at any fundraising event for cancer that survivors are trotted out and celebrated? Their courage is admired, their caregivers are celebrated and their victory held up as an example to others in the same challenging boat.

But for diabetics (or whatever you choose to call us) all too often the conversation takes on a different tone. Google "obesity" and I'll bet at least half of the results will also include "diabetes." The former contributes to the latter along with the implication that if we'd give up the Big Macs or fried chicken our diabetes would simply go away. Ever stand in the grocery store checkout line and see some book or magazine with the words "Diabetic Cure..." "Diet" or "Revolution," etc.? For many people the idea seems to have taken hold that if only people with diabetes had some discipline, will power or enough smarts to avoid wretchedly unhealthy diets they wouldn't be sick. But the fact of the matter is that it isn't that simple. There is no cure now or even one in sight.

With no cure on the horizon, those of us with diabetes battle it not just daily but on an hourly basis. Type I diabetics know all too well the drill. Check your blood glucose. Count the carbs in the meal you are about to have. Compute the necessary amount of insulin to inject or enter the appropriate data into your insulin pump. Eat the meal on time and then a couple of hours later run another glucose test to see how well you did. Maybe things worked out fine and you hit your target. Perhaps something was amiss and you are dealing with hypoglycemia or you are high. But even with all of that work at managing this disease you are also trying to have a real life balancing work, school, family time or other "normal" activities. It is tough - something none of us asked for but which we have no choice but to deal with. Every day, every meal we have to get it right. It is an ongoing battle with no end in sight. That is why I don't call myself a "Type I" or a "diabetic" or even the more fashionable "PWD."

I'm a Diabetes Survivor!

Views: 112

Comment by Trudy on May 24, 2012 at 3:51pm

Hi Tom. I agree that "Every day, every meal we have to get it right. It is an ongoing battle with no end in sight." I'm approaching my 19th diaversary, but hadn't thought that was time enough to be considered a Diabetes Survivor. However, I'm willing to take your word for it!

Comment by Betty J on May 24, 2012 at 3:58pm

I too don't like being described as my disease. Diabetes is what I have and noto what I am. When someone in the medical field refers to me as Diabetic I cringe and correct them. I tell them yes I live with Diabetes and dislike being referred to as a disease.

Comment by acidrock23 on May 24, 2012 at 5:31pm
The only place I use the term "diabetic" willingly is the "Diabetics who run Marathons" group here. The rest of the time, I'll engage in whatever sort of circumlocution is necessary to go w/ "people with diabetes..."
Comment by Stoyan on May 25, 2012 at 1:43pm

I like that term - and I think it will be even more applicable when (yes, hopefully when) we have a type 1 cure. Because it will mean that we have truly survived diabetes and have nothing to fear anymore - not complications, not insurance questions - nothing.

Comment by Tom Goffe on May 25, 2012 at 3:17pm

Stoyan,
I agree with your optimism and how the JDCA is applying a disciplined approach to shaking off the accumulated complacency delaying the inevitable cure. Having read their publications and analyzing their approach, I've changed my approach to living with diabetes.

When I was first diagnosed, the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial had just been published. At the time is was groundbreaking for finally making a statistical connection between blood glucose levels and the probability of having complications. The guidance I received was long term in nature, i.e.: keep your A1C low to avoid problems years later. After some thought, I've changed my approach: keep my glucose low NOW and the A1C will be better. The result is that I have an hour to hour approach. I don't do anything different with testing, eating, etc. - I just keep my thinking in the moment.

I also took some time to think of all the things we do every hour and every day. It is an impressive catalog.

One test at a time.
One meal at a time.
One bolus at a time.
Repeat as needed.

As diabetes survivors, there is so much that we do to live, learn and survive. We take more blood glucose tests in a day than most folks do in a lifetime. Before we pumped, a flu shot was just another injection - not the once a year shot that lesser mortals fear. How many shoppers can tell you that a cup of lite yoghurt they are looking at knows it has 16 grams of carbohydrate without looking? Would a psychologist include hypoglycemia as a possible cause of anxiety and confusion? How many insurance agents can explain insurance reimbursements for diabetes supplies like we can? How many statisticians track the ups and downs of their blood chemistries with the precision or understanding that we bring to the table?

We do very special things every day - often without thinking. The demands of living with a potentially deadly disease are huge, but we still manage to that while trying to live a normal life. How many people can do that? How many people who know or love us watch with admiration and amazement yet rarely mention it?

We ARE diabetes survivors!

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