Diabetes isn’t the only chronic illness

By | 11 November, 2010
A chronic illness, yesterday

A chronic illness, yesterday

Us diabetics often talk about raising awareness of diabetes. I’m not entirely sure what this will achieve; we raise awareness, then what? However, that’s another slightly tedious point for another day. Anyway, we expect people with working pancreases to learn about our condition. But do we, in turn, learn about other chronic conditions? Do we practice what we preach?

Just for fun (I use the term “fun” advisedly) here’s a quick quiz to test your chronic condition general knowledge:

  • Which is more common, Haemophilia A or Haemophilia B?
  • Would you be worried about your fertility if you were diagnosed with cystic fibrosis?
  • Is haemophilia more common in men or women?
  • Roughly how many types of epilepsy are there?
  • What are the possible complications of sickle-cell anaemia?
  • Name a few of the treatments for chronic fatigue syndrome.
  • What is brittle asthma?

Well if you got more than a few then you’re doing well. I got a grand total of zero and had to resort to the hallowed annuls of Wikipedia to find the questions, let alone the answers. In other words I know nothing about our cousins’ chronic illnesses, just in the same way that I knew nothing about diabetes until I was diagnosed.

While no-one can be expected to have an encyclopaedic knowledge about every chronic illness (it would pretty depressing getting all that knowledge, wouldn’t it?) I do think that sharing knowledge and experiences between sufferers of all chronic illnesses would be a Good Thing. Maybe people with asthma have some great ideas that could be applied to diabetes; maybe old diabetes salts could pass on something useful to epilepsy sufferers? Who knows?

By expanding our chronic illness horizons beyond our pancreases I think we can all learn something. So as a starter for ten, why not check out Ros’ haemophilia blog here: http://rosamundcooper.blogspot.com/ which is a cracking, witty and interesting read. Though perhaps not over your lunchtime sandwiches – unless you enjoy the sight of lots of blood!

Category: Living with diabetes

About Tim

Diagnosed with Type One when he was 28, Tim founded Shoot Up in 2009. For the diabetes geeks, he wears a Medtronic 640G insulin pump filled with Humalog and uses Abbott's Libre flash glucose monitor.

16 thoughts on “Diabetes isn’t the only chronic illness

  1. Stephen

    By putting us all on a guilt trip about not understanding other peoples chronic illnesses?!?
    Bring back the pump updates, all is forgiven 🙂

  2. Louise Bloxham

    Hi Tim, as regards the ‘what then?’ question of raising awareness, I would say that the point of it is that by raising awareness you are hopefully increasing someone’s likelihood of making a donation to Diabetes UK or JDRF, if they understand the seriousness of D and the impact it has on those living with it. I would have thought this would be a very worthwhile reason to raise awareness! Finding improved treatments or ultimately the cure is going to be through research, largely funded by charitable donations.

  3. Tim Post author

    @louiseb – a good point!

    But then we might get onto a discussion about how DUK or JDRF spend that raised money. Some people might say DUK piss money up the wall by funding obscure and esoteric studies on things that are of interest only to academics and make no difference to the diabetic on the ground. People might also say either charity has too much of bias towards a particular type of diabetes. Other people might say charities won’t find a cure – but competition between commercial entities will.

    But what do I know? 😀

  4. Scott S

    There is much to be said for not only learning about, but also learning from, other chronic diseases. What’s more, many of these have related etiologies (for example, autoimmunity which causes type 1 is also responsible for a host of other chronic diseases ranging from IBD to rheumatoid arthritis). Ironically, we all need things that re-educate the body’s immune system to induce self-tolerance, but do we ever speak with one voice? Perhaps we should!

  5. Rohan

    I think I’ll have to confess to a zero score as well :S

    I find it interesting to learn about other peoples conditions, but I also find I rarely remember much. As for charitable giving, does anyone else feel almost a little selfish giving to a diabetes charity? Lol, seems silly, but I haven’t done it yet, partly for that reason (also largely because I haven’t had any spare money to give recently 😛 ).

    P.S. Quick request, can they be called pumpdates now? For some reason the term sprang into my head, and I kinda like it 😛

  6. Cecile

    I’ve got 3 (chronic diseases of an autoimmune persuasion)…or 4, ’cause the AI gastritis caused both iron deficiency anaemia {if you start eating enough ice to endanger Antarctica and your tongue becomes red&raw} and pernicious anaemia {tingling, then insensitive fingers – great for pricking; also being a loonier bint than usual}. The Hashimoto’s thyroiditis has caused my total daily dose to dwindle from 52ish to 38ish; so along with insulin, I’ve been forced to become appreciative of stomach acid, intrinsic factor and thyroxin. Viva…oops, RIP pancreatic B-cells, gastric parietal cells, thyroid follicles 🙁 .

    Brittle asthma sounds as dry as a biscuit – my asthmatic (&Hashimotic) mum produces enough phlegm to sound like a pleasantly bubbling stew (my sister got the asthma, I got the Hashimoto’s…&Co)

  7. Hairy Gnome

    Well… I didn’t actually score zero, but that’s all I’m going to admit to. I really am a great believer in learning as much as you can about everything though, not only does it give you something to talk about at parties, it makes you look intelligent to twelve year olds. A side effect is that occasionally you learn something new about something you already thought you knew a lot about.

    @ckoei – Whenever I get downhearted and rail against my fate, I shall think of you and admonish myself for being childish.

  8. Annette A

    I try to learn something new everyday. Today’s is Hashimoto’s wotnot and all its associated ills. Jeez, that’s alot on one plate.

  9. Cecile

    Lots of T1s have other pick-upon-themselves diseases…useful to know about them, as some of them (Hashimoto’s, Graves’, Addison’s, coeliac disease) can bugger up your diabetes “control” (further).

    @teloz: I think I’ll take my autoimmune horde instead of haemophilia any day…

  10. Cecile

    An insulin-using haemophiliac
    Will need clingfilm to hold all that blood back…
    Just remember to refill
    With euglycaemic swill –
    At least your HbA1c will be on track(?)

  11. Charlie

    I’m jealous of @ckoei – I’ve only got hypo-thyroidism, not the Hashimoto version (as far as I know..) perhaps I should upgrade to the Ninja version to kick butt??!!

  12. Cecile

    @charlie: Sigh…if only my thyroid follicles were capable of doing a bit of karate/martial arts, they wouldn’t be succumbing so meekly. We should get our glands to stop abiding by Queensberry rules (&kick immune system in the bollocks) 😀


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