You can never please a diabetic

By | 16 January, 2012
Some very weird diabetes-related stock photography

Some very weird diabetes-related stock photography

When it comes to raising awareness of and money for diabetes, we’re a contrary bunch. We’re always very keen for everyone to understand everything about diabetes, because it’s an exciting and fascinating disease don’t you know. And if I’ve got to live with it, you’re going to know about it. But we – and by “we” I mean a hugely broad-brush generalisation of the diabetic population as a whole, based on what I’ve seen and heard over the years – have very strict terms under which you can do such awareness raising.

Diabetes UK stepped into the firing line recently by launching its new logo. This is always a dangerous game. As a rule everybody is an expert in logo design and no one ever gets it right. Setting creative differences aside, it also sparked conversation about whether charities should be “wasting” money on rebranding. But at the same time, there are conversations going on with people saying DUK aren’t visible enough, they need to be out there, with a larger visual presence. They have to be allowed to put a bit of resource into that surely?

And that’s just one example of the perpetual paradox of conflicting demands from the diabetic population. Here are a few more of our contrary gems…

We want everyone to understand how serious a disease diabetes is. We want you to understand that it’s more than just avoiding sugar and taking a few injections. We need you to take it seriously and get behind our campaigns for more money for better care and research.

But could you do that without actually talking about the nasty bits. Don’t mention the fact that a broken pancreas can knock 20 years off your life expectancy, is the major cause of blindness in the working age population and leads to lots of amputations. Because that scares us and we don’t like to hear it about it on the radio as we’re waking up in the morning.

We want to see more diabetics in TV drama. But we only want that if the storyline shows them doing everything that characters with a working pancreas can do. None of this sensationalist nonsense about hypos and forgetting their insulin and ending up nearly dead. No, just show them eating a fruit pastille every now and then and going to clinic. Oh, but did we mention we want people to know diabetes is serious. And wouldn’t that make for really dull TV?

And whatever you do, don’t fail to make the distinction between Type 1 and Type 2. Unless of course we’re looking to demonstrate that diabetes is a significant issue the government should be tackling, in which case the volume of Type 2s bumps up the feeble Type 1 numbers quite nicely, so feel free to lump us all together for that purpose.

What it comes down to is that there is only so much publicity, public sympathy, political support and money to go round. If we want it, we need to fight for that rather than amongst ourselves. The chronic disease charity market is a competitive one and we have to convince people they want to give to the diabetes cause, rather than some other unpleasant disease. After all, would you be moved to give money to someone who’s complaining that they find it difficult to eat pizza and sometimes feel a bit dizzy after they’ve done some exercise? Me neither.

Any other examples of what a cantankerous, curmudgeonly bunch we pancreatically challenged can be?

6 thoughts on “You can never please a diabetic

  1. Mike

    Food. Pretty much anything to do with it is a complete D minefield for the unwary…

    I can’t believe they offered [didn’t offer] me that delicious carb-laden high fat [low fat] starter/main/pudding/chocolate bar/cake/vat of goo. Don’t they realise I HAVE DIABETES and I can [can’t] just eat any old thing that takes my fancy.

  2. Dave

    This is spot on Alison. Is it a major disease that dominates our life or is it something that we get along with pretty fine most of the time?

    Here’s one that (sort of) came up recently. Driving:

    Conversation with doctor day 1: “Yes I definitely need more test strips as I have to test every time I drive and the risk of going hypo when driving is so big that limiting my strip numbers is very dangerous. My hypo awareness isn’t perfect so I need these strips to be safe.”

    Conversation with doctor day 2: “When the form comes from the DVLA please make sure you say I’m perfectly safe to drive and haven’t had a hypo driving in twenty years. And I always have Coke (the fizzy stuff not the drug) in the car so even if I do feel low I can just pull over.”

  3. Tim

    Thank heavens that you can’t please diabetics. If it was all simple, straightforward and everyone agreed we wouldn’t have such an active forum and blog! See – there’s a bright side to everything…

  4. Lesley

    How dare you call me a diabetic! I am a person with diabetes…. etc etc


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