Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Diabetes isn’t a joke

An illness shouldn’t be a punchline

(Flickr: Comms Engage)

(Flickr: Comms Engage)

By Emilia Beuger, Assistant Op/Ed Editor

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Ever since I was nine years old, I have often had to explain my diabetes to people. No, I do not have Type I or Type II diabetes. I actually have diabetes insipidus, a rare illness where I am unable to retain water properly. It is not really related to Type I or Type II diabetes, other than the fact that it is an endocrine disorder and they share the same first scientific name. But most people don’t know that. Growing up, I have had to brush off people’s offers to give me juice or sugar because they thought I had Type I diabetes. I have had people say to me, “You have diabetes? But you’re not fat.”

My situation only demonstrates a small fraction of the misinformed conversation surrounding diabetes in our society. People with Type I and Type II diabetes have had similar experiences, and often much worse, due to their illness. I know of diabetics who have gotten the same reactions to them stating they are diabetic. I have learned to avoid discussing my illness as I would rather not have to explain it and explain how it is not as severe as the other types. Type I and Type II diabetics have to disclose that they have diabetes because they are serious medical illnesses.

Basically, diabetes means that someone has too much glucose in their blood. If someone is a Type I diabetic, it means their pancreas is not producing enough, or any, insulin. Insulin keeps your glucose levels down. If your glucose levels are too high, this can cause damage to major organs. Nerve damage, foot damage, eye damage and more can occur. It is a big deal, and it will affect a person for their entire life.

I have often seen posts on social media where people will joke that a dessert will “give them diabetes” or how some candy “looks like diabetes.” While being overweight is a risk factor for Type II diabetes, eating too much sugar does not cause diabetes. Type I diabetes has to do with genetics and other factors; there is no way to prevent it that professionals know of, and there is no cure. There is no one cause of any type of diabetes. By saying that a food “looks like diabetes” or by joking about it, you are minimizing and delegitimizing the experiences of real people. This is similar to someone joking in a caption of a picture of them with alcohol that they are “an alcoholic.” These are real diseases that should not be taken lightly. This is someone’s reality every single day. People with serious illnesses shouldn’t serve as the punchline to an ill-informed joke.

Many people die from diabetes. In fact, it was the seventh leading cause of death in the United States in 2015. In the United States, 30.3 million people have diabetes, and 1.25 million of those Americans have Type I. These are very serious illnesses. According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetes kills more people every year than breast cancer and AIDS combined. There are so many possible complications and medical costs associated with both types of diabetes. You also should be careful to not group the two main types of diabetes together because yes, they are both two kinds of diabetes, but they are different. Neither are caused by sugar intake and neither are treated in the exact same way. Diabetes is not a one-size-fits-all disease and we need to stop acting like it is. It is a big deal, and it is not a joke.

Millions of people are affected every day and every year by this terrible disease. I am one of the lucky ones. I am so lucky that I do not have to live with the complications that Type I and Type II diabetics have. But, I feel it is important that I use my situation as a way to advocate for the people most affected by this disease and how this negative stigma hurts them.

So please, next time you meet someone with diabetes or see a Tasty video on Facebook, think about the actual realities of the disease before you speak or joke. Let the diabetic community and its advocates speak for themselves so that we can all break the stigma and stop using diabetes as a punchline for jokes about eating habits.

Emilia Beuger is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected]

4 Comments

4 Responses to “Diabetes isn’t a joke”

  1. help find a cure on April 25th, 2018 12:17 am
  2. Daphne Edwards on April 25th, 2018 6:01 am

    I was diagnosed with type 2 Diabetes and put on Metformin on June 26th, 2017. I started the ADA diet and followed it 100% for a few weeks and could not get my blood sugar to go below 140. Finally I began to panic and called my doctor, he told me to get used to it. He said I would be on metformin my whole life and eventually insulin. At that point i knew something wasn’t right and began to do lots of research. Then I found Lisa’s diabetes story http://mydiabetesday.com/i-finally-reversed-my-diabetes/ I read that article from end to end because everything the writer was saying made absolute sense. I started the diet that day and the next morning my blood sugar was down to 100 and now i have a fasting blood sugar between Mid 70’s and the 80’s. My doctor took me off the metformin after just three week of being on this lifestyle change. I have lost over 30 pounds and 6+ inches around my waist in a month. The truth is we can get off the drugs and help myself by trying natural methods

  3. john aimo on April 25th, 2018 9:02 pm

    Diet and exercise in my opinion along with other common sense practices are generally the best way to get healthy. In some extreme cases you have to rely on doctors, but generally they suck.

    Doctors make a living and money off of the sickness of others and ask yourself critically what has modern medicine and doctors done for us today? Not alot, very few diseases or conditions are cured and doctors just prescribe medicine that only treats the symptoms and usually not very well.

    I think the best thing we can do in our society is to get rid of our reliance on doctors and learn by our own methods and common sense(its a different way of practicing health, its called ‘wellness’-) to be healthy.

  4. john aimo on April 25th, 2018 1:28 pm

    Thanks for using our campus newspaper to share about emotional feelings . It must be nice, everyone else who has ever been mocked(practically everyone in the world) once in their life doesn’t get to write a newspaper article about or or the countless people who have medical conditions or disorders.

    Must be nice to have the luxury to share your emotions to a captive audience and the enduring and harsh struggle you have had in life in your fight against sugar jokes.

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




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