Tonight I went to a solo performance show, featuring four performers who are showcasing their work after a solo performance class that I used to take. It’s great to go to these shows, to check out the new and amazing talent as well as to see old friends and “alums” from the class. It’s truly a fantastic community and one that I dearly love and appreciate.
The show tonight featured two old friends of mine and two “newbies” whom I knew nothing about. I was really anticipating the new stuff. The third performer opened her act by coming out on stage and whispering, “Shhh……it’s 3 in the morning in a small town in the Midwest. There’s a 13 year old girl in there sleeping, or…?” She morphs into a mother, bending over her daughter’s bed, yelling somewhat hysterically, “HONEY! ARE YOU HAVING A REACTION?!?”
I froze for a moment. Reaction. Reaction. OMG. This was going to be a piece about… could it be? Diabetes. Oh god.
Yes indeedy. It was a piece about diabetes. The actor stepped to the front of the stage to narrate the goings-on. “Yes. I have had diabetes since I was eight years old. I have TYPE ONE diabetes, not to be confused with TYPE TWO diabetes, of which there is an EPIDEMIC these days, because people are running around eating too many Big Macs.” And then she went on to tell her diabetes life story, getting lots of laughs along the way.
This is when I officially left my body, my back pressed as far back into the seat it would go, and I think I probably missed the next five minutes of the show. I felt attacked, embarrassed, mortified, defensive, shocked.
I’ve only been part of the “diabetes community” for, um… five days now? And in my surfing around on various forums and websites I’ve detected a distinct feeling of animosity and hostility from Diabetes type-1 people toward Diabetes type-2 people. The sentiment seems to be something like, people with type-1 Diabetes are innocent children who did nothing to deserve this terrible fate, while type-2 Diabetes people are obese, sendentary pigs who BROUGHT THIS ON THEMSELVES.
Look. I know that being overweight is a risk factor for developing diabetes. I was overweight for many years (and still am, to a lesser degree). But jeez.
There is so much ignorance and misinformation out there. So of course D1 people feel outraged and indignant when people who Don’t Know Any Better say things like, “you probably ate too many candy bars!” But then to take it out on other people who have diabetes?
Suddenly, I feel tired. And sad.
April 6, 2009 at 10:27 am
This really wasn’t the kind of experience you needed this week at all. It also has to be really grim to tackle a new problem of this magnitude, and discover almost instantly that people you might have assumed to share a common concern with you are instead sniping with each other over what look like pretty stupid things.
But, in a peculiar way, that sniping does go to the heart of the matter. WHY DO we (I mean humans) do things, year after year, that we know aren’t good for us? Why am I still consuming 225% of the RDA for sugar nearly every day (as I’ve done for decades, whatever weight I’ve been)? Why do I let my weight yo-yo up and down? I know better.
Like a huge number of other people, I have an enormous capacity to control my environment and these factors – but I don’t. Or at least, I don’t most of the time. So, in a very real sense, if my (minor) heart problem worsens, or I develop diabetes, I WILL very much have been responsible.
All of this cuts directly to the behavioral complexities that make us human. The underlying behavioral issues are a lot bigger than eating too much fast food. They’re also part of being human. Yes, no one should overeat. Everyone should exercise. We should all make good food choices.
Some of us will get away with poor choices. Some of us won’t. I am totally fine with recognizing reality: my habits affect my health. I AM responsible. And yes, we should all be able to acknowledge that actions have consequences.
But it’s ridiculous to build a culture on “my illness is holier than your illness”. Life is unfair; some of us will die peacefully in our beds, some will get cancer, (hereditary or not), others will die in horrific accidents. No one is holier because the gods made one choice over another.
The pain of having been handed a particular illness, apparently through no fault of one’s own, is certainly devastating. But cultivating bitterness and resentment because others may have contributed to their own disease is stupid and pointless. It doesn’t help anyone; it doesn’t mitigate anyone’s situation.
Quite plainly, it’s the wrong focus. Bad things happen to good people all the time. Your “comedian”, and others who feel the same way, need to grow up and get over it. It’s called “life”.
April 6, 2009 at 11:49 am
Wow. Not what you needed – eventually, you will probably be able to participate in the “black humor” regarding your disease. It took me about 6 months to not be so sensitive (which I am by nature, overly-so) about mine and be able to laugh about the stupid things that go with it. You’ve probably heard cancer patients “joke” about their disease – not to diminish it, but to get some power back over it.
For now, though, you should try and find as much support as you can and ignore all the other stuff that is said. This is a big deal that you are facing and you need all the help that you can get. Hang in there – one day at a time, you’ll get through this.
April 6, 2009 at 11:50 am
>.< God, people can be so stupid.
My grandmother had Type-2, and she was thin as a rail… this is the thing; we don’t KNOW what causes diabetes. Certain things contribute, or make it more likely that you can get it, but nothing’s for certain. It’s not even for sure that people are getting diabetes *more* or *earlier* than they used to, only that we are testing for it earlier.
You can live with diabetes and minor side effects for years before anyone figures out that you have it. So maybe all these people who “got it” when they were in their 60s actually had it for years and it wasn’t until they started having renal failure that their doctors noticed.
It’s like saying that there’s an epidemic of ADHD problems. Maybe those problems were there all along, and we just didn’t know that there was a reason for it…
Unfortunately, people are going to be rude, thoughtless, self-centered and obnoxious, no matter what. People who want to feel superior will always find someone else to look down on. I know it’s hard, especially right now… (my mom, for instance, had the bad luck to be diagnosed with breast cancer in OCTOBER, which is BC awareness month, so for her – and me – it was really hard because while we were trying to cope with the news, there were pink ribbons and viral marketing campaigns everywhere and we just couldn’t get away from it….) but eventually you can just slide it in with other things you ignore.
April 6, 2009 at 12:04 pm
I had a long reply that I was ready to post and lost it. Argh!
I’m sorry that you were hit with that, which I am sure was a blow to you so soon to being diagnosed.
My dad had type 1diabetes (he died in November). My mom has type 2 diabetes. Either way I think diabetes sucks.
Everyone has opinions. Just do your best to take care of yourself and your diabetes.
April 6, 2009 at 12:54 pm
Yes, that CLEARLY was the right way to characterize all people with T2D.
Closeminded and not helpful…. hoep it didn’t ruin your entire weekend!
April 6, 2009 at 1:32 pm
This reminds me in some ways of the animosity between the Deaf community and the hard-of-hearing folks. Instead of banding together for change, the two are very frequently sniping at each other.
Just goes to show the tribalism inherent in humanity I guess; always a need to put someone else down, even down to petty reasons like having the wrong kind of disease. And all that performer really did was fat-shaming; she may have dressed it up in medical terms, but that’s what it boils down to. It’s just a slightly more “genteel” version of staring down overweight people in the supermarket who even DARE to look at something besides the produce aisle.
Nolite bastardes te carborundorum!
April 6, 2009 at 2:18 pm
Wish you didn’t have to go through this. It’s enough to be diagnosed with a health setback/issue let alone feel like you brought it upon yourself. I don’t know why people do this.
But it’s sadly rampant. When my dad had a heart attack, my boss’s first reaction when I notified him was, “Maybe he’ll take better care of himself.” (my dad is captain of his retirement community mountaineering team and hikes everyday).
When I had a stroke, people said, “Are you changing your lifestyle?” (I was in the best shape of my entire life as you know, when I had that stroke, which was caused by a freak hole in my heart). It’s just SO WEIRD that people’s reaction is to CONDEMN the person who is sick. And try to find themselves “faultless” and thereby distance themselves from THAT sickness, or worse when “sick” people compete with other “sick” people and try to FEEL BETTER about THEMSELVES.
I hope I hope I hope you can shake this incident off.
You did NOT bring this upon yourself. It is NOT YOUR FAULT. Sometimes our genetics (oh there I go, blaming our ancestors! 🙂 ) just really suck.
April 11, 2009 at 11:01 am
Nobody asks to be a diabetic. Some are born with it, some develop in early years and some become later in life. Regardless of which type a person has makes no difference except in the treatment of it.
Both types experience much the same symptoms as the other. From my experience over the years as a diabetic who is online and knows lots of other people on line with diabetes. The vast majority do not hold any contempt for either type. I hope that you find this to be true for you also as times progress.
For now just focus on taking care of you. The rest will fall into place.