Ugh! Media!

As a parent of a child living with Type 1 diabetes and a self proclaimed Type 1 crusader I find it very annoying that mass media will not distinguish between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes in their stories. The addition of 4 extra letters and 1 number, TYPE2, would save me from the hassle of having to educate magazines and newspapers one publication at a time.

The latest offender is Redbook magazine. They have an article in their October 2009 issue “How Healthy is Your Family Tree?” that talks about genetic diseases that can be caught before they turn serious if you only find out about them based on your family history.

Of course this article mentions diabetes. While I appreciate that they are getting the word out there for all the people with the ‘other’ diabetes, I am angry that they will not differentiate between Type 1 and Type 2.  Type 1 diabetes IS NOT PREVENTABLE!! You can write article after article after article talking about how to prevent diabetes as long as you make note that you are only talking about Type 2.

Let me repeat that in case anyone from Redbook is reading, TYPE 1 DIABETES IS NOT PREVENTABLE!!!!

The following is the letter that I submitted to the letter to the editor of Redbook. Like I’ve said before, Type 1 crusader is a dirty job, but someone has to do it.

Dear Ms. Morrison,

As a  mom of a child living with Type 1 diabetes I was saddened to see that Redbook made no differentiation between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes in the article “How Healthy Is Your Family Tree?” While I agree with all of your points regarding diabetes, they are really referring to the more prevalent form , Type 2 diabetes, and a distinction really should have been made.

For my son and all the other people living with Type 1 diabetes it is an insult to claim that “more than 40,000 men showed that those who ate more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish and chicken had a lower risk of diabetes that those who ate more traditional Western meat-and-potatoes diet,” without distinguishing the fact that any study of this nature can only be referring to Type 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease which is not brought on by food intake, exercise or lack thereof, stress, or any other self induced cause.

Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are very different diseases from their causes to their care. While I do not expect Redbook to write an entire article on living with Type 1 diabetes, I do expect at the very least, that when you take on the task of educating the masses that you do so in a responsible way. The responsible way would have been to make note that the article was about Type 2 diabetes thereby doing your small part in stopping the myths and misconceptions that plague my son regarding his type of diabetes, Type 1.

Thank you for your time.
On the bottom of every email that I send out is this website address. What are the odds that someone will click on my link and read this site? Maybe, just maybe, one more person will be educated about what my son and all the other people that live with Type 1 go through every day.

I can dream, can’t I?

I should have it too.

Being a mom of a child with Type 1 diabetes is difficult because it is the one thing that I cannot say to my son, “I know how you feel.”

When my son skins his knee outside on the driveway, I can ease his pain with a band aid and a story. I can tell him about the time when I was riding my bike down the park and I stood up and let go at the same time. I can tell him how I walked all the way home to Nannie’s house with bloodied up knees all while holding back tears for fear of someone seeing me crying on the street.

When my son has a belly ache, I can ease his pain by having him lie down and telling him a story. I can tell him about the time when I was a brand new teacher and my belly hurt so much that I had to lie down on the little toddler mats until I felt better. Picturing his mama lying on a little toddler mat always seems to make him smile and rid his world of the blasted belly ache.

When my son has too much homework, I can ease his pain by sitting by his side and reminding him of the homework I used to do in college when I met his daddy. While my son works on his homework he travels to a place in time where his daddy and I were just 19 years old working on our college assignments together, just starting to fall in love.

When my son has that shaky feeling from his sugar dropping too low, I can ease his pain by treating the low, but I have no story to share.

When my son has that angry feeling from his sugar being too high, I can ease his pain by giving him more insulin, but I have no story to share.

When my son cries in the night because his belly hurts from ketones, I can ease his pain with insulin and water, but I have no story to share.

When my son cringes at the thought of taking an unwanted break from playing to check his sugar, I can ease his pain by checking as quickly as possible, but I have no story to share.

The greatest gift we can receive will be a cure. The second greatest gift that I could have received would have been a diagnosis for myself on the day my son was diagnosed. I wish everyday that it were me with Type 1 diabetes instead of my boy. As I cannot switch places with my son, I would gladly take on this disease myself. I want to be able to say, “I know how you  feel,” and mean it.

If I had the option of getting this disease too, I would in a heartbeat. Every finger check, site change, high and low that I would live through would bring me that much closer to knowing what my little boy has to live with everyday of his life.

Until then, I have no stories. I do have plenty of hugs. Fortunately they are limitless.

Knowing nods by unknowing people.

As a parent of a child living with Type 1 diabetes I find that whenever I mention that my son has Type 1 diabetes I am bombarded with knowing nods by unknowing people.

Over the last couple of days with the inception of my son’s official school career I have had to tell many people that he lives with Type 1 diabetes, and it is then that I get the nod. The problem with ‘the nod’ is that there is usually nothing behind it other than misconceptions, untruths, myths and sometimes outright lies.

Many people in this world know someone with Type 2 diabetes, a great deal less know someone living with Type 1. It is this disparity that allows for the misconceptions to be laid and the nod to be given. When I tell people my son has Type 1 diabetes they immediately think they know what I am talking about. The think he can’t eat sugar, he tests his blood glucose once and a while, and with a little time his glucose will be controlled. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

People with Type 1 diabetes can eat sugar. In fact, sugar is in almost everything. We count total carbohydrates and cover each carb with a certain amount of insulin.  Yes, he does test his sugar, but it is over 10 times a day. Not when he feels like it, not just when he wakes up, and he can never ever forget to check his sugar or he runs the risk of getting very sick or worse. And by no means will time help control his sugar levels. Maintaining even blood glucose levels is a 24 hour 7 day a week job. How long he has had diabetes had no effect on his sugar levels. Every day is a new day. A new hurdle. A new circumstance. A new set of numbers.

The nod requires me to explain my son’s disease. I cannot let people think he gets off as easy as some people in this world. I will not leave until the nodder knows that my son checks his sugar as much as he does. I always make sure the nodder understands that any and all things can negatively affect his sugar levels. Stress, food, excitement, sports, sleepiness are just a few of the things than can affect sugar levels. And to top it off, they can affect it differently each day. One day stress may make my son’s sugar go low, and the next it may make his sugar go high.

The nod sometimes implies that they know someone who had Type 1 diabetes but has since been cured. This is the lie that I must rectify. Type 1 diabetes has no cure. Not now. Not then. Not ever. Regardless of what they have been told, and now falsely believe, no one has ever been cured of Type 1 diabetes.

I know there are many people out there that do not understand Type 1 diabetes. I understand that and I understand why. I also understand that it is my responsibility to all people living with Type 1 diabetes to educate as many nodders as I can.

It’s a dirty job, but someone has to do it.