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Re: [IP] Who should represent diabetes?
I wouldn't want a person like this to totally represent all with diabetes,
either. You make a very interesting point when you say that she could scare
people who have been recently diagnosed.
Perhaps you, a doctor or the ADA could contact the media and suggest that
someone else be used *in addition* to this woman. Someone more knowledgeable
about, and in control of, his or her diabetes. It would be a good opportunity
for the media to educate the masses about the dangers of poor control.
The media outlets may even have reporters on staff who have diabetes (hey --
we're *everywhere*!), but even they may not know about DM or how to control
it. I'm thinking of two examples on the staff of the daily here: one hasn't
tested her BGs in years (she "knows" when she's running high or low) and is
not starting to experience complications. The other has been hospitalized
numerous times to take care of complications, but "just can't do what it
takes" to maintain better control. Their habits and control may be all their
editors know about DM.
I also have a (soon to be former) freelancer who is in such poor control that
I've had to scramble to fill in for her one too many times because she "just
feels too bad" from high BGs to get her copy in. It's a small publication
that relies primarily on freelancers and I'm the only person I have to fill
in for her -- generally right on hard deadline when I have two million other
things to do. I've given her books to read, I've tried to educate her, I've
taken her to lunch and given her examples of how to control her BGs, I've
urged her to see an endo ... all to no avail. I am now officially throwing up
my hands and giving up on retaining her as a writer.
But please do think about contacting the media (or having another
knowledgable person or organization to so) and point out that they're using a
very poor example and perhaps they could contrast her with someone who is
living a healthy life because s/he is in control.
In a message dated 7/25/99 1:31:09 PM US Eastern Standard Time,
email @ redacted writes:
<< A diabetic woman in my city is always present at fundraising walks and
runs, etc. She is nearly blind, has horrible neuropathy, and has a St.
Bernard dog pulling her in a makeshift red wagon/cart. She keeps a container
of glucose tabs on a string around her neck. Naturally, she gets a lot of
media attention. That's fine--any notice for the disease in the newspapers
and tv is fine, I guess.
But the woman says and does such stupid stuff! Just like the woman you
met, her diet is out-of-whack, and she takes only two shots of NPH per day.
And she becomes the de facto spokesperson for everyone with diabetes in this
But she also made the newspaper a few months ago in a nice human
interest story. She passed out at home and the dog "saved her life" by
barking loudly and alerting the neighbors that something was wrong. Her
neighbors came over and immediately called 911. How did her neighbors know
how to respond? Well, buried in the story was the answer: this same thing had
happened 3 times already this year.
I have two thoughts about people like this:
First, her situation is terrible, and I feel fortunate that I am not in
her position. Her visibility may help many people become aware of diabetes,
and support research, education, etc. Her extreme condition may convince
diabetics and non-diabetics of the seriousness of the disease.
On the other hand, she has not demonstrated that she can take care of
herself, and this makes her condition more pitiful. She is not a role model
for anyone with diabetes, nor is she a positive story for a person who tries
hard to take care of him or herself--she may only scare and discourage a
person who recently been diagnosed, for example.
This is not media jealousy, by any means: I don't want to be the guy
that Channel 7 calls on whenever they want an insider's story about diabetes,
but I think someone other than this woman would do a better job. A person who
knows the seriousness of diabetes, works to stay healthy, and can attest to
the benefits of research and education would be the type of person I would
like to read about. Persons who are not aware of diabetes might benefit from
seeing another side of diabetes, rather than witnessing the antics of this
woman, whom a friend from the ADA once termed "a freak show." Despite the
care and concern of her doctors and the ADA programs, she doesn't help
Again, I pity this woman and her condition. I am sure she is a good
person, but she doesn't represent what I want people to see. I probably don't
need to solicit responses, but here goes: does anyone agree or disagree?
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