dirty rag

Not a Diabetic - Jack Carson

I am 18 years old and I have diabetes, but I'm not a diabetic. I am many other things. I am a student. I am a scuba diver. I am a person. But I am not a diabetic.

Then why do we see everywhere people called diabetics? On the cover of diabetes magazines. On the cover of diabetes cookbooks. All over the internet. On the news. In medical journals and reports everywhere people see articles like "Healthy Eating for *Diabetics*" or "How Exercise can Help * Diabetics*." One of my favorites is "Socks for *Diabetics*" ads in the newspaper.

It's in the photos, too. All over the internet and on newsstands all I ever see is pictures of old people with their healthy diabetic meals, going on diabetic exercise walks with their diabetic socks on.

It's even on tv. Every other channel an ad comes up with Wilford Brimley's fat diabetic ass on his fat diabetic horse talking about how Liberty Medical can help you live a better life.

See, here's the difference between me and them. I have type 1 diabetes-also called bad luck diabetes. My pancreas just quit his job on me like a stoner quits his job at blockbuster. It's like my pancreas one day just said, "Bro, I'm not really digging this whole making insulin thing, soooo, I quit."

What people the general public has come to know as 'diabetics' have is type 2-also called old people/fat people diabetes. Type 2 can be reversed in early stages with diet and exercise. People with type 2 diabetes usually take pills to help their cells use insulin their body already makes. They've been eating so much bad food for so long, and haven't been using it, that their body no longer remembers to convert it into energy with insulin. Their insulin-converting cells quit on them because they were overworked and underpaid like illegal immigrants lettuce fields.

So what bothers me and the general type 1 diabetes population is the fact that type 1 and type 2 are usually lumped together in the same boat. This doesn't make sense, because type 2 diabetes weighs a lot more than type 1 and therefore needs it's own boat so as not to sink. But really, there are a lot of other young people just like me out there, taking our 4-7 shots a day, working out, living life,and nobody can tell we have diabetes until they spot our insulin or glucometer. "Oh, so you're a diabetic?" is a question a lot of people ask me when they see me shooting up before I eat. I just want to yell at them "Oh, so you're an ignorant fool?" but it's not their fault.

People who don't know anything about diabetes are conditioned by all of this media bullshit to think of a person with diabetes as a diabetic meal-eating, diabetic walk-taking, diabetic sock-wearing sick person. I don't think I'm sick. I don't feel sick or look sick. But as soon as a person without diabetes hears the word 'insulin' or 'blood sugar', they assume what they've been taught to assume by the drug store ads and health pamphlets.

Sure I'm sick of it. Sure it's a bummer. But it's such a great racket. CVS loves to see my smiling face come in each month and pick up 50 bucks copay (plus what my insurance pays) worth of test strips,syringes, and vials of insulin. The American Diabetes Association loved it when I sent money in so they could keep publishing their magazine for 'diabetics' before I realized they didn't seem too dialed in on research.

There's a cult of sick out there. Some people like to think of themselves as sick. They like things like pillboxes, key chain med holders, bracelets that say 'diabetic'. And these people are capitalized on. Well, they should be.

But what about the newly diagnosed kid who doesn't know better? I got diabetes when I was fifteen. I felt like I kind of had a duty to feel sorry for myself, eat health food, make regular visits to the hospital, and plan on losing an arm or something down the road. I quickly cleaned up my act, but not everybody's as motivated as I am. Some kids are so influenced by what they have seen and heard about diabetes that they have an identity crisis.

There's no real solution. The ADA will not create a separate entity for type 1 diabetes. Why? Because there aren't nearly as many people with type 1 as there are with type 2.So it seems to make sense to the ADA to lump the two together, and instead of finding a cure for type 1,to find 'better ways to live' for people with type 2, or 'diabetics'.

There are others out there looking for a cure. I'm sure you've all heard about the rats that got cured of type 1 with ten weeks of treatment from a Leukemia drug. If not, look it up. Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if that testing is snuffed by the fat pocketed higher ups at the pharm and on the ADA board.

Until there is a cure, don't call me a diabetic. Call me a teenager. Call me a musician. Call me a runner. Call me an amateur writer. Hell, call me an asshole, but don't call me a diabetic.