[IP] Dear Abby
DIABETICS CLAIM BLOOD SUGAR LEVELS DO AFFECT PERSONALITY
DEAR ABBY: I was in shock when I read the letter from Dr. Barrett, the
president-elect of the American Diabetes Association. He was commenting on the
letter from "Wants a Life in Virginia," who said her husband's diabetes has led
irrational, irresponsible and even violent behavior. Writing to "set the
record straight," Dr. Barrett denied that diabetes could be the cause. In no
was the record set straight by his letter.The American Diabetes Association
notes irritability and anxiousness in its list of symptoms, but doctors, nurses
and those who work in nursing facilities can tell you of combative behavior for
no reason and resisting treatment. To deny this truth is a disservice to those
who need immediate attention.
Dr. Barrett made it harder for us all who deal with this disease and its
challenges -- and there are many. -- BARBARA L. GIFFEN, VERMONT CHAPTER
DEAR BARBARA: I have a stack of testimonials 2 inches thick from people like
yourself, also "in the trenches," vouching that blood sugar levels can and do
affect a person's personality. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: When my blood sugar gets very high (350-plus) I become verbally
abusive and develop a hair-trigger temper. As soon as the insulin kicks in, I
return to my normal self. Many of my friends who are also diabetic tell me they
react the same way. You and the good doctor should refrain from blanket
statements. -- W.H.S., DANA, N.C.
DEAR W.: I agree. I have also been told that when a person's blood sugar gets
LOW, he or she can become short-tempered. That is one reason why being a food
server sometimes requires the skills of a diplomat. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: I have been an insulin-dependent diabetic for 34 years. To speak
to Dr. Barrett's apparent agenda, no, I have never been in a brawl, never "gone
nuts" in public. But my wife can tell a few stories. The spouses, partners
and relatives of diabetics are unsung heroes. I have awakened her in the night
having seizures. I have come to my senses after consuming sufficient sugar to
find my wife weeping and refusing to tell me what I said, so I know it wasn't
gibberish I was ranting, but something that could easily be characterized (to
quote Dr. Barrett) as "irresponsible, irrational, and even violent behavior."
It may not be my fault, but it remains my responsibility.
The agenda of the ADA, and most knowledgeable health-care professionals, is
to emphasize to diabetics that they can be healthy, productive and happy (all
true). What they no longer add to that list is "live a normal life." In an
effort to overcome fears and misconceptions by the general public, the
of any other situation is downplayed to the rest of the world.
I hope you will acknowledge that regardless of the great challenges faced by
diabetics, those who love them are also confronted by trials. -- ROBERT V.,
DEAR ROBERT: Thank you very much for your honest letter. I contacted the
American Diabetes Association after I received the avalanche of mail from
who disagreed with Dr. Barrett. He still maintains that "based on the facts
presented in the original letter, he would again state that diabetes is not an
explanation for her husband's behavior."
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