Friday 8 April 2011

Ignorance is NOT Bliss

Well, it's been quite the week amongst members of the DOC (Diabetes Online Community) after it was discovered that Reader's Digest magazine is about to publish a special issue entitled "Reverse Diabetes." Clearly, this title is not only inaccurate and misleading, but it pulls at the heartstrings of those of us whose lives have been affected by diabetes in any form.

An ad for the upcoming issue appears as follows:

REVERSE DIABETES: Your total guide to Blood Sugar Control
Don’t let diabetes control you! This May, Reader’s Digest is brining you an essential guide to diabetes management with sensible, practical ways to adjust your eating habits, stay active, keep your blood sugar stable, and live life on your terms.

Diabetes, whether it be Type 1 or Type 2, is NOT reversible. It's not curable and it never goes away. Sure, with extremely good blood glucose control, the likelihood of side effects can be reduced, but the disease is never gone. Those affected by diabetes know that, until a cure is found, diabetes will always be with them - at work, at school, at rest, on vacation, everywhere.

As a parent of a child with Type 1 diabetes, I have to believe that a cure is out there, but is yet to be discovered. I can't and won't give up until a cure is found. I'll fundraise, advocate, educate, and fight for my son's life. I owe him that. And it is my hope and belief in a cure that enables me to keep fighting and not get totally overwhelmed by this devastating and life-threatening disease.

So when I hear that a massive respectable company like Reader's Digest is promoting false information, I feel like I've been slapped in the face. The phrase "Reversing Diabetes" reduces the disease itself to one that is within our control. It suggests that if I simply read this special issue, I will acquire all of the skills and knowledge to eliminate diabetes from my son's life. Do not they not realize that if it were this simple, I would have already "reversed" my son's diabetes?

Misinformation is abundant in health care, and diabetes is certainly no exception. There are numerous magic cures, herbs, supplements, and treatments, that claim to cure diabetes. And there are too many uneducated or misinformed people who that think that my son got diabetes because he ate too much sugar, or didn't get enough exercise, or because someone else in his family history had it. Too many times have I heard, "Oh, I thought diabetes was an adult disease," or "Only people who are overweight have diabetes." I used to get mad when people made such ignorant comments, but over the years I have become less inclined to retort with anger and now simply try to correct them in the simplest and quickest way possible. Ironically, this is the same way in which Reader's Digest presents its information to its readers - in an abridged version.

My hope is that those who do purchase and read this upcoming special issue of Reader's Digest, read it with the same skepticism that they would if reading about a miracle diet, or a sure-fire way to eliminate wrinkles, because if not, we are moving backwards instead of forwards, and that would break my heart.

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