Awareness isn’t the problem

Awareness isn’t the problem

There are several things we have never understood one of which is why November has been tagged as Diabetes Awareness Month. Diabetes is growing at epidemic rates, has become a huge healthcare crisis and is becoming a major financial crisis. Awareness is hardly the issue here. Would it not be more productive to have an open and honest discussion about what can be done to help the millions of patients who have diabetes and the millions more who will likely develop diabetes.

While everyone is discussing all the way cool whiz bang toys patients have or the many drugs used to treat diabetes why not instead talk about the patient who actually has diabetes. However, this discussion should not be framed by what they don’t have rather what their lives are like and how best to get these patients to use all the toys and take their meds as prescribed. Let’s openly acknowledge that the business of diabetes unfortunately does impact the treatment of diabetes.

Let’s further acknowledge the patient does bear responsibility too. This is the area that deserves greater attention. Far too many people look upon patients with diabetes as victims. We will state flat out that we have never considered diabetes to be a disability. It’s chronic disease which can be managed. Patients with diabetes are not victims.

They did not choose to have diabetes, who would? However, they can do something about it IF they want to. Yes, we talk about the burden of diabetes management, that managing diabetes is a job with no days off. And there is no question that this burden can and should be made easier. Yet there is nothing wrong with the toys they have to play with or the drugs used to treat diabetes. Can they be made better – for sure. But when used as designed they do their job just fine.

We’ve said it before and will say it again – providing the patient the how to manage their diabetes has never been the problem – this isn’t about providing the how to – this is all about getting the patient to want to manage their diabetes. It’s equally important to acknowledge that try as we might there is a group of patients who will never ever have the want to, this may be sad, but it is true. The diabetes community must accept this, they must acknowledge that some people just don’t want or will not accept help.

It would go a very long way if the diabetes community added compassion and empathy to their efforts. Listen most patients with diabetes have a disease they do not want do not understand and even with all the heavy lifting may not get the desired results. Stop with all the damn guilt, stop judging these patients thinking they are somehow inferior because they may not be as engaged with their diabetes management as others. It’s ok if they don’t have an A1C of 7 or below, its ok if their sugars run high from time to time.

Having been around this wacky world for more than a few years we have spoken of the very noticeable bias towards insulin using patients. More accurately this bias is really towards highly engaged patients, patients who get it are down with it and will do the heavy lifting. These patients besides taking ownership of their diabetes management are a very passionate and vocal group. Yet sometimes this passion gets the best of them and they fail to understand that not everyone is like them. They may have compassion, but they lack empathy and the ability to accept that it’s OK that not everyone is like them.

Awareness is hardly what’s needed if we are ever to move forward. What’s needed is more understanding and much less judgement. As Momma Kliff used to say there is no need to solve a problem that doesn’t exist. Better to work towards solutions for what is. Or as others have said its time to stop creating solutions then finding the problem these solutions are supposed to solve.