Wednesday, December 8, 2010

But you don't look sick...

Did you know that more people die from diabetes than AIDS and breast cancer combined?  If this is the case (which it is!), then why aren't there more people donating to diabetes charities?  Why aren't there diabetes awareness products sold in the stores?  Why don't we have a town-wide day for diabetes? 

Please understand that I am not bashing any other illness or disease.  I have had people close to me with breast cancer.  A family that we were close with when I was little lost a son to AIDS.  Both are terrible and I don't mean at all to say they aren't important.  However with so many more people dealing with diabetes, why doesn't it get the same level of attention?

I was struggling with this question for a while and so I asked other people with diabetes.  The biggest reason that I heard was, "Because we don't look sick."  Exactly!  I look like a healthy 40 year old mom of five.  A person with cancer often goes through treatments that makes the person appear sick and weak.  Most diabetics, even if they are experiencing a low or high that could put them in the hospital, never appear sick.

Last fall, I was running errands.  At one of my stops, I was being serviced by a man that at first just appeared tired.  His mind wasn't working quite right as he helped me with some paperwork.  He was having difficulty doing some basic math.  I'll admit that even to me the man just appeared tired and distracted.  He told me that his sugar was high which was causing him some issues.  I think he said that he was in the mid to high 300s.  Luckily he had a very understanding supervisor who helped him as needed.

This man didn't appear sick.  He appeared tired and distracted when actually his blood sugar was high.  When I'm low, I look like someone who overdid it some and just needs to rest.  When I'm high, I'm edgy and cranky.  Do either one of use look sick?  Nope!  But we are.  No, we're not a slave to our illness, but that's by choice.  We chose to be the one in charge.  However, even then, sometimes diabetes tries to win.  Our sugar levels may go high or low at the drop of a hat.  We don't look sick, rarely feel truly sick, but we still have a chronic illness that is begging for a cure.

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