Why Diabetes Awareness Month Matters.

Saturday, November 1st marks the beginning of Diabetes Awareness Month 2014.

I saw this video the other day, and part of it keeps coming back to me. It was when Kim Vlasnik said “My disease is not a punch line”. I’ve seen the video a few times now, and every time I hear that part I shift uncomfortably in my chair, thinking of a couple of moments in my recent past. I had shoved these memories deep inside, I thought, to the point where I didn’t think I’d be reminded of them (I’m good at sweeping these kind of things under the rug and moving on with my life). But watching that part of the video brought them to the surface again, and I’m having trouble shaking them.

One was during my workday, while I was walking outside, on my way to have lunch by the harbor. The other happened on the subway, on my way home. In both cases, a sudden low hit me hard. I wound up on the ground on Baltimore’s beautiful harbor promenade, and on the disgustingly dirty floor of a subway car, struggling to maintain consciousness, mere moments from potentially losing my life.

In both cases, no one helped or asked if I needed help. No one called 911. However, in both cases, at least two people got out their phones and started shooting video of the entire episode. People with good jobs, good clothes, and disposable income stopped what they were doing in order to commit my trauma to digital media before it was over. My medical emergency became fodder for their Facebook post or their Tweet or their ha-ha YouTube video.

In my country, about ten times more people will be diagnosed with diabetes this year than will be diagnosed with breast cancer. In October, countless media outlets help promote marathons designed to help raise money for an organization that has, according to some reports (like this one), contributed as little as 15 percent of of its donations on research awards that fund studies on everything from hard-core molecular biology to the quality of breast-cancer care for Medicaid patients. In October, the White House was lit up in pink. In October, the National Football League sells pink accessories and pink jerseys and pink who-knows-what-else and donates a portion of sales to breast cancer research. The same thing happens in May as Major League Baseball tries to get in on the action.
Meanwhile, people are using the near-death experiences of people living with diabetes as social media entertainment. I wonder how much this might change if diabetes received even one tenth of the awareness of breast cancer.
This is only one reason why we need Diabetes Awareness Month.
This is only one reason why we—why I—need the Diabetes Online Community.
Ignorance does not look good in pink, or blue, or any other color.
If you can’t do it for any other reason: As you take the Big Blue Test, form a human Blue Circle, or even think about performing some other measure of outreach or advocacy this November, please remember the importance of awareness.
I know I’ll get over these brief moments in my life.
But don’t allow anyone else to experience anything like this ever again.
This is only one reason why we need Diabetes Awareness Month.

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  • Photograbetic  On October 31, 2014 at 9:28 am

    Thank you for sharing ❤ ❤


  • Kim  On October 31, 2014 at 10:28 pm

    I don’t even know what to say… except that what you went through (twice) has put a horrible knot in my stomach.


  • Type1Diaries  On November 2, 2014 at 1:27 am

    This is wonderful! Totally changed my perspective on T1D awareness month! Thank you!


  • Cassie  On November 2, 2014 at 8:09 pm

    There are no words. That is horrible and inhuman. I’m so sorry. It makes me angry that people would behave that way. Ok, I guess I did have a few words.

    Liked by 1 person

  • painspeaks  On November 3, 2014 at 5:47 am

    Reblogged this on The Daily Advocate By Painspeaks.


  • Scott E  On November 10, 2014 at 9:10 pm

    I know I am really behind on reading and replying to this… but this is just horrible. It reminds me of why I used to avoid public displays of diabetes – because of the spectacle it could become.

    But I do believe that some people are just plain cruel, and no matter how educated and understanding they are, it won’t stop them from taking the video. That’s really sad, and I don’t know that there’s anything that can be done about it.


    • StephenS  On November 10, 2014 at 9:21 pm

      Thanks Scott. Part of what I was trying to say was that people wouldn’t automatically shoot video of a woman who lost all her hair from chemotherapy. But they’ll take a video of me during a hypo event. More awareness might keep that from happening in the future. I can hope, at least. And do what I can. Thanks for commenting.


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