Thursday, 14 April 2011

Letter to America (almost two months after diagnosis-day)

I announced on Facebook that I had been diagnosed with the ‘betes’, as a friend of mine who now lives in the US calls it (and which I’m going to steal from her). This same friend also told me she was diagnosed herself six years ago. For her it is a genetic thing and although mostly she is on top of it, it would seem to have been a tough year. My friend has been kind enough to agree to answer some of my questions, so here is an extract of the last email I sent. Please, blog readers, feel free to offer any advice and answers yourselves.

Letter to America

So diabetes, what’s all that about?! You have the genetic excuse, which although it doesn’t make it any less of an impact on your life, at least you can blame someone else. I don’t have that and it still grates. That sounds like I’m dissing your diabetes, I’m not, this is complicated. People do tend to ask if it’s the good diabetes or the bad diabetes and I have to try to explain.

It seems from some of the comments I’ve had from my blog posts that I’m actually still in shock and therefore really strict about what I do and don’t eat (although I eat too many salted peanuts). After a year or two it would seem to become a lot harder to stick to healthy eating, is this something you found?

I also hate sticking myself with that damned pin every morning and night. I gave myself this weekend off, so I haven’t monitored my blood. When you do monitor your blood levels do you tend to guess before seeing the number, as the machine ticks down? It makes it slightly more tolerable but makes me cranky if I’m higher than expected.

It sounds as if you’re struggling with the betes at times. Is this something I can look forward to or is it different for every person? I guess I don’t expect you to answer that as it’s different for every person, how can it not be? Still I think I need to ask some dumb questions so I hope you don’t mind.

Do you get involved with the cause? Is it a cause? When does a disease become a cause and can you have a cause for the non-genetically affected patients? It might be like supporting famine victims who slashed and burnt their own crops (I hope Kim Jong Il doesn’t read this – little bit of socio-geopolitics there).

[Please, blog readers, don’t judge me too harshly for that last statement I’m aware it might be somewhat controversial and I’d do better to take it out, but as I’ve said before this blog is warts and all and if that’s what I’m feeling I’m going to keep it in. This blog is not about right or wrong, it’s about sharing my feelings and right now I’m still pretty angry at myself.]

I’ve been watching the DVD box set of the first series of the excellent hit US TV show 30 Rock. In one episode they attend a fundraiser for diabetes research. I pick up on all that stuff now, mentions on the street, TV and at work. It’s like they say, a man with a hammer sees a world full of nails.

How is diabetes seen in the US? We keep hearing things such as 18 million Americans have diabetes and it’s only set to grow. I also heard that it affects aboriginal people in Australia particularly, but when some aboriginal diabetes sufferers were given the chance to live a traditional aboriginal life their symptoms disappeared after a couple of months. How would that work in the UK? Turnips, farming and servitude to a local lord! I think I’ll just keep going to the gym and try to avoid eating peanuts.

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