“The flower that blooms in adversity is the rarest and most beautiful of all.” – Mulan
Wego Health’s prompt for the beginning of the third week gives us that quote, then asks: True or false?
It’s hard to grow a tender shoot in rocky, arid soil. Flowers don’t sprout at the top of high mountains, where the timber line thins out with the air. There’s only ooze at the deepest parts of the oceans’ depths, fertile for marine life but not for vegetation.
Right now, in the Diabetes Online Community (DOC, for short), I am finding that a flower is blooming in adversity. There is an online petition to change the names of “Type 1 diabetes” and “Type 2 diabetes” to “reflect the nature of each disease”. When I first read it, my reaction was much like Lee Ann Thill’s in her blog post. She states:
With all due respect, if anyone thinks a name change is going to mean they’d eventually catch a break and not have to explain, they haven’t really thought this through, or they haven’t had diabetes long enough to appreciate how this history of name changing has played out and affects people over time.
She and I are both
juvenile diabetics, IDDM, Type 1 (you know, the one where the pancreas is broken big time and we’d be taking dirt naps without insulin?) and have both answered some inane questions. The petitioners are parents of younger Type 1 kids and I can see why they are frustrated. I am not a parent who has to worry about a soccer coach or a teacher or someone who cares for my T1 child when I am not around and doesn’t understand the difference between the different types of diabetes.
But I will tell you this. If it wasn’t for an American Diabetes Association “public service” advertisement in Time magazine in 1983, I may have been kicking it six feet under. The ad asked if I had any of the symptoms that many of us have come to know so well: increased urination, increased hunger, blurry vision, fatigue, etc. – because all diabetics have these symptoms regardless of “type”. I checked off every single symptom and knew that was what I had (even though I had no idea what was in store for me). The advertisement was not geared to the small population of Type 1 diabetics in the country. In fact, I’m sure they were trying to reach the Type 2s (’cause, you know, how many kids read Time magazine cover to cover?), but it grabbed me in the wide net they cast, and I’m grateful.
I know a lot of Type 2 diabetics. Do I think they have it “easier”? That my type of diabetes somehow matters more because it’s rarer? Nope. They struggle with many of the same issues that we do. They worry about complications and food and misinformation just like me. While the petitioners wrote their missive with pure hearts, they forgot that a lot of Type 2s (and other types of diabetics – MODY, LADA, gestational) have hearts, too. Mine broke when I read Bob Pedersen’s beautiful response to the proposed name changes.
As the days pass, what has blossomed from this has been an outpouring of real emotion as all diabetics, no matter what flavor, have come together. This is where I get to quote Shakespeare:
What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
This flower can blossom in the desert. On the top of Everest. At the bottom of the Mariana Trench. Because it transcends the condition that separates us from the rest of the world by….bringing us together.
There is a new petition begun by Scott Strange that I support. It’s not about changing a name of a disease. It’s about respect and support and education for people living with it – and focusing our collective energy on that. And I will nurture that seed for all it’s worth. You can sign it here. This is what you’d be signing:
To have empathy, no matter the type.
To advocate for those with this condition, whatever the type. To pledge to educate about diabetes, regardless of the type.
To correct misinformation and stereotypes that are so common in society and the media.
To recognize the hurt that misinformation and stereotypes cause people everyday. Hurt that is both emotional and physical.
People, who for what ever reason are affected by these stereotypes on a daily basis. People who just happen to live next door, who just happen to come to your family picnics, who happen to be among those you care for. People you’ve never met, people with families and loved ones.
People who happen to have diabetes.
People just like you.
No matter the type.
This is the flower that is the most beautiful of all. And it came out of our own adversity.
(Hey! I quoted Shakespeare on my website. Crossing that off my bucket list…)