I had a different subject in mind for this week, but then I read about a mind boggling conversation that happened between a person selling raffle tickets to raise money for research for another illness, and a veteran type 1 diabetes person.
As you know, much of my focus is on the confusion that people have between type 1 and type 2 diabetes. In addition to that, some people do not understand the seriousness of what we live with, maybe because we usually look healthy and “normal”. So let’s work our way through the interaction that took place and pull it apart, piece by piece.
This is the conversation the type 1 person had with the raffle ticket seller –
“I was approached by a charity collector who was looking for me to buy raffle tickets. I told him that I already donate money to diabetes research, so unfortunately I would not be buying a raffle ticket. He got really angry and said that diabetes isn’t a bad thing to have and the money that goes into diabetes research is wasted and better spent for something else. I didn’t say anything else to him just walked away with smoke blowing from my nose.”
Let’s have a look at his statement in a little more depth.
“Diabetes isn’t a bad thing to have” – Firstly, this person is not differentiating between type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Simply by using the term “diabetes”, they are showing that they do not understand that they are different illnesses with similar symptoms. I also suspect that, because they are so blasé about it, they really don’t care in the slightest.
Looking at it entirely from a type 1 perspective, “isn’t a bad thing to have” – let’s consider that statement. Most people don’t like going to the doctor for an injection. Also, nobody likes getting a splinter in their finger. Let’s face it, it hurts. Well a person with type 1 diabetes has 3 or 4 or 5 or more injections each and every day. So forget about that once or twice every few years trembling sensation when you get an injection from the doctor; a type 1 diabetic has multiple injections every day of their life. And the splinters that hurt so much? A type 1 person must prick their finger 4, 5, 6 or even more times each day to check how much glucose is in their blood at that moment in time. Each of these finger pricks is just like getting a splinter in the tip of your finger. It hurts, especially if you accidentally do it precisely at the end of the bone in your finger. But this is one of those things that type 1 people just simply have to get used to. If they can’t do it, they will get sick and die.
Also, with the need for a constant balancing act between the body’s glucose requirement, exercise, food and insulin, for the last 40 years I have never been more than 8 hours away from death. But apparently that’s not a bad situation to have.
“The money that goes into diabetes research is wasted” – Really? I mean are you really, really sure? Let’s ignore what that statement means to the 120,000 people in Australia living with type 1 diabetes, and their families, or the 30 million people world-wide. Let’s also ignore the fact that this person selling raffle tickets could wake up tomorrow morning and find that their health is strangely deteriorating, for no apparent reason, and a month later they are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.
Let’s ignore that for a moment, and instead look at the subject of government funding for research compared to the cost of health care. The research for a prevention and cure for type 1 diabetes is closely associated with the research for a prevention and cure for type 2 diabetes ….. yes, that other one. The government has said many times that type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease are together a tidal wave approaching us, which will overwhelm the health systems of the modern world. The tidal wave is the cost of treating these illnesses. To reduce the impact of the tidal wave requires research, the cost of which is being funded by governments all around the world. They all know what’s coming in the next 20 years if they don’t find a cure. And finding a prevention and cure for type 1 diabetes will also help find a cure for type 2 diabetes.
Oh, I can hear you asking why the raffle ticket seller could wake up the next morning with deteriorating health, and a month later be diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. That is because the experts still don’t know what causes type 1 diabetes. Anybody can suddenly find themselves an unwitting member of the club of 120,000 other Australians. They still don’t know what causes it to happen at random. Research will find the answer, and Australia is at the forefront of the effort. Only then will the heartbreak of a two year old child being diagnosed with a life long illness requiring injections and 24 hour a day management be brought to an end.
So Mr Raffle Ticket seller, type 1 diabetes is a bad thing to have. You, or your future children, or any member of your family or friends could wake up with it one morning, and it would be a burden that you or they would carry for the rest of their life. And the money that goes into diabetes research is to not only find a prevention and cure for this illness that affects 120,000 Australians, but also helps to save Australia and the world from a health cost in 20 years that will overwhelm many economies.