If you have diabetes, it’s Friday, one day out of… the rest of your life.
You’ll be inundated by social media mentions of WDD and the color blue (chosen as the patron color of awareness) will be worn by those in the know. I had planned on telling you all the events and excitement that is going for World Diabetes Day, but instead, I woke up with this in my head…
This I Believe
I believe that if your pancreas doesn’t work as it should, you are part of my community. This means my voice is yours to raise if you want to help the community as a whole. This means I will champion for you, no matter where you fall on the “pancreatic spectrum”.
I believe that all 382 million people living in this world with diabetes today deserve to live their lives without discrimination, stigmatization, or finger-pointing. Diabetes doesn’t discriminate. Neither should our community.
I believe that diabetes awareness begins with me. The more I understand about my diabetes, the more comfortable I am passing on the right knowledge to others, be it friends, strangers, or the general public.
I believe that I have a duty to educate people about diabetes without prejudice or anger. We are not a house divided; some individuals with one type of diabetes has been helped by another’s research. To silo us is to separate us and the potential to learn from each other. I do not expect the general public to understand the difference between different types of diabetes, just as I do not purport to know about all of the different types of cancer. They are all devastating and have different courses of treatment, just like diabetes.
I believe that it doesn’t matter what diabetes is called. I have it. Mine might be different from yours, but in the end, our goals are the same: to live long and well with as few complications as possible.
I believe that access to technology and treatment should be available to all. Regardless of where you are, what you do, if you have insurance or live a life of privilege, we do not have a choice.
I believe the fault is in our genes, not in our choices. No one “chooses” to have diabetes and to berate or belittle someone for a perceived lifestyle discounts the science showing that most diabetes involves a genetic predisposition.
I believe that the impact of diabetes is not just on our bodies, but our psyches, wallets, and families as well. There is not enough treatment effort given on the psychological aspects of living with diabetes, not enough financial assistance given for those living with this chronic illness, and not enough support to those who love us. This needs to change.
I believe that a cure will not be the end of living with diabetes. I will always live with the vestiges of this disease, even if there is a cure found. The damage that has been done to me by the disease will live on long after a cure. There will be no way to undo what diabetes has given to my body and my mind.
I believe that we all have work to do for diabetes, using what talents we have. For some, it’s advocating, fundraising, or awareness. For others, it’s the important job of living gracefully and with dignity. We all matter in the work we do.
I believe that we cannot live a life of diabetes alone.
I believe in the power of community.
I believe in us.
Today is World Diabetes Day. We don’t party with funny hats and beer with limes in them, or funny hats and green beer, or funny hats and…O.K., so we may party today with funny hats. (In fact, I’m headed to the Diabetes Mine Innovation Summit in Palo Alto, CA right now. There will be some well-deserved celebration with other people with diabetes tonight.) But diabetes is no party.
I’m going to give you some numbers, because numbers are solid and tangible and can be referenced to something. (Feelings and opinions make for lousy quadratic equations.)
- There are more than 371 million people in the world with diabetes.
- My blood glucose has been as low as 28 and as high as 778. (Got a thing for numbers ending in 8, my body.)
- 79 million people in the United States have “pre-diabetes”, meaning they are at risk for developing Type 2 diabetes without making lifestyle changes.
- In 2012, the direct medical cost in the U.S. for diabetes was $176 billion. (Yes, with a B. Billion.)
- I’ve checked my blood sugar approximately 44,530 times.
- Diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death in the United States.
- A single vial of Humalog insulin is $148 without insurance at my local pharmacy.
- People with diabetes spend an average of $13,700 per year on medical expenses; about $7,900 of that is attributed directly to diabetes care.
- The risk for stroke and heart disease is 2 to 4 times higher among people with diabetes.
- There are more than 3 million Americans with Type 1 diabetes - 85% of them are adults.
- Diabetes is the number one cause of kidney failure, nontraumatic lower-limb amputations, and new cases of blindness among adults in the United States.
- 4.8 million deaths in 2012 (the last time global mortality data was compiled) were caused by diabetes.
- 80 people each day are diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in the United States.
- Those with type 1 diabetes are living around 11 to 14 years less, on average, at the age of 20 to 24 years than those in the general population; this figure drops to 5 to 7 years less at age 65 to 69.
- I’m 43.
What’s the point of World Diabetes Day?
The World Diabetes Day campaign is led by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) and its member associations. It engages millions of people worldwide in diabetes advocacy and awareness. World Diabetes Day was created in 1991 by the International Diabetes Federation and the World Health Organization in response to growing concerns about the escalating health threat that diabetes now poses. World Diabetes Day became an official United Nations Day in 2007 with the passage of United Nation Resolution 61/225. The campaign draws attention to issues of paramount importance to the diabetes world and keeps diabetes firmly in the public spotlight.
Why today? It’s the birthday of Frederick Banting who came up with the idea leading to the discovery of insulin in 1922. So, because of him (and Charles Best), I’m alive today.
And that’s a good enough reason to put on a funny hat and celebrate.
(Thanks to IDF, the U.S. Government, ADA, and JDRF for these statistics.)
I can’t grow a mustache in November to raise funds and awareness for men’s health issues (for them, it’s Movember - pretty cool…).
So, what should I do to raise awareness about diabetes? (I have ideas, but I’m crowdsourcing to see if you have a better idea. Most of the time, you do.)
Yes, there will be all sorts of things happening on World Diabetes Day (November 14th) and the Big Blue Test - which is totally awesome. I’m talking about the entire month. 30 days. (Hath November…) I don’t want to do just one day. We live with it 365 days a year… I’m thinking of something with a little more impact.
Do you have any suggestions? Are you planning on doing anything?
Wanna start something?