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Anna Sabino, MSW, CDCES

Yeah yeah yeah, November is Diabetes Awareness month.

diabetes awareness

It’s all over social media (if that’s your thing). Blue lighting up buildings, people wearing t-shirts about diabetes, sharing the number of finger pricks they’ve experienced in their lives….

AND-is that really the awareness deep down we want others to know? Especially our closest circle? I know for me specifically, it’s not about the numbers, it’s about the drawn-out mental energy and effort it takes day after day to “keep going.” Coupled with the overstimulation of data and beeps knocking at my brain, saying “Pay attention to me or else.”

Is what we really need more awareness of the disease itself or the actual impact of how the disease impacts us? When I meet with clients, the majority of the time they say that their biggest stressor has nothing to do with the actual task of administering insulin or monitoring the blood sugar itself.

Huh? Isn’t that what diabetes is all about?

finger prickIt is the non-stop burden of self-advocacy, unnecessary on-hold time with phone calls, and logistical management and “proving” to ourselves and the world around us that life for us is a complete catch-22. We walk around with this invisible look that “we can do anything”  and most of the time diabetes just runs in the background.

We eat, give insulin, and carry on. We are no different, YET, as soon we beep, go low, have a site rip out, it’s game over, all hands on deck.

What this means is that people with diabetes are experiencing a lot of distress and not sharing it, according to this recent article, and are certainly not sharing it with their providers.

What does this mean? Are we afraid to bring it up at all? Scared of the reaction of our providers, parents, and peers? Have we actually owned up and accepted this illness?

For kids especially, a JAMA article shared that medications to treat ADHD, anxiety, and other conditions are on the rise for kids with T1D specifically compared to their non-T1D peers.

So what’s the answer here?

We know that screens and data are likely contributing, the forced isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic eliminated in-person support and the visible connection of others with T1D doesn’t help either. We can rationalize in our heads for hours and days, AND….my thought is…

What we need from our family and friends is a bit of self-awareness, not one more Instagram post about being up in the middle of the night. It’s about asking more questions, going just a little deeper.

My request is that you start to ask more questions this month.

  • What is something that you want others to be aware of about diabetes?
  • What do you think it would be like if I forgot to bolus?
  • How do you think it makes us feel as a family?

Invite these thoughts and questions to your dinner table this month.

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