scary diabetes stories

There was a story in the local paper yesterday about a 5 year old calling 911 because his mother was in a “diabetic coma” and last week, there was a story in the news about a diabetic man getting into a car accident and last night there was an ad on TV preaching about the deadly complications of diabetes. My six year old son can’t read the newspaper, but he did hear the stories on TV. The 5 year old in the paper called 911 from a cell phone and didn’t know his address which slowed EMS’s response time. The boy is quoted on the 911 call as saying, “My Momma is dead.” The reporter stated, “Doctors later told Richardson Burden (the mom) that she would have died if she had not received medical care.”

These stories are like an infection, they snuck up on me without any warning and after I read them, hear them on TV, I feel knocked out and want to crawl back into bed. These are defeating stories, these are Julia Roberts in Steel Magnolia stories, these are stories that scare me, scare my children.

This morning as I sat on the couch reading the Sunday paper, I listened to my boys talk as they built legos in their bedroom. Will, my 6 year old, was explaining to his brother that I would die before them because I was their mom, I was older. He didn’t say anything about diabetes and maybe he has not connected the ideas of death to the ideas about my disease, but he will eventually. And that is the part about this disease that I hate the most, the stories in the news of people who get into car crashes or lose consciousness because of low blood sugar. Maybe they didn’t check their blood sugar before they went to bed or got behind the driver’s seat, maybe that was their mistake, but I’ve done the same thing myself. None of us can be perfect all the time.

So maybe for every negative story that is published in the news and on TV, there should be a positive story to even the balance. Stories about people with this disease who climb mountains, run marathons, write books, raise children and work as educators and doctors in this field. I think my day would start off on a much brighter note with a story of inspiration instead of defeat.

3 thoughts on “scary diabetes stories

  1. There are people with diabetes writing books, raising children (hello and hello!), running marathons, climbing mountains (Google “Team Type 1” or “Will Cross” for info) and doing all the things you mention. They aren’t necessarily news, though. But you can definitely find out about them.

    Keep in mind that people who are vigilant about their diabetes tend to have fewer of the incidents you mention. After many years with type 1, I’ve never blacked out while driving, killed anyone, or had to have anyone call 911 for me (and I lived alone for eight years before I got engaged.) Is this newsworthy? (If someone thinks so, contact me!) But the reality of living with diabetes makes me realize that while sometimes bad things happen to those who go low or black out or whatever, it’s not necessarily going to happen so long as I’m aware of my sugars most of the time.

  2. With all due respect, I think imposing some sort of artificial “balance” in media coverage is not an honest reporting of the news. There are plenty of stories about people who have accomplished great things with diabetes that are supposed to be inspiring. But sugar-coating reality with only so-called “uplifting” stories gives the wrong impression about diabetes to the world at large.

    The public perception of diabetes is influenced by our personal testimonies, and unfortunately, we have portrayed a disease that is no more than a minor inconvenience, rather than a serious disease that deserves a cure as much as cancer or any other disease. In addition, by showing the world only the happy face, and not the tragic disease beneath, we are endorsing the prevailing philosophy of tolerating, rather than curing, diabetes.

    Consider the fact that the government spends about $1,700 on AIDS research for each person with AIDS, yet less than $20 on diabetes research for each person with diabetes. In an effort to encourage optimism and confidence diabetes magazines and educational materials show images of active, healthy people “managing their condition” with a “no problem” attitude.

    Is it any wonder, then, why society does not feel compelled to cure diabetes relative to other ailments under these circumstances?

  3. Thanks so much Scott for your thoughts…I agree with both comments, and often feel pulled between a desire for the truth about this disease (to get the attention we deserve from the medical community) and a desire to change the voices and the faces of diabetes.
    I’m glad that you feel like the diabetes magazines put healthy faces on their covers, maybe I focus on the negative too much, because I feel like the faces I see and the stories I hear are from overweight and unhealthy older people living with type 2, and that’s when I get frustrated.
    Thank you for your feedback……it makes me think!

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