My peaceful hiatus from the online diabetes community was disturbed by the uproar started by the misleading, ill-informed and insensitive tweet by the CEO of Crossfit and the equally misleading, ill-informed and insensitive responses to that tweet from certain members of the diabetes community. For those who are not aware, let me summarize. The inconsiderate and ignorant CEO tweeted the image “Coca-Cola Open Diabetes” which clearly insinuated that sugar causes diabetes and that therefore those who drink too much Coke (or have too many sugary things) brought diabetes upon themselves. This tweet drew indignation from the diabetes community. Sadly, the indignation included the equally inconsiderate and ignorant response “Learn the difference between Type 1 and Type 2” from an alarmingly large number of Type 1 diabetics (represented by a pop music personality) or their parents.
Like many, I was incensed with the Coke-related tweet. I was also initially disappointed and saddened by the fact that the most intelligent response that Type 1s could muster is “Hey, that’s only for Type 2s, and I’m Type 1.” But my initial reactions quickly turned to annoyance and then to resentment. Instead of simply saying “Coke (or sugar) does not cause diabetes,” Type 1s, and worse parents of Type 1 diabetic children, chose to throw us Type 2s under the bus just so that they could wash off the perceived shame, guilt and stigma that judgmental and ignorant people try to pin on Type 2 diabetics and, by association, all diabetics. I would have gone completely ballistic were it not for the Type 1 bloggers and online friends who do not advocate such indefensible ignorance and deplorable prejudice, and have spoken up for Type 2s. As you can see, I was angry. I still am to a degree.
As I was working to calm myself, two words from my subconscious wriggled their way up to my conscious brain and wrestled to get my attention.
Two words – So What – quickly became three words – So Bloody What.
The myth that sugar causes diabetes has no scientific support (if you have doubts, please read this blogger’s post). But let us assume for the sake of argument that the myth is true, that sugar does cause Type 2 diabetes. So Bloody What! It does not give anyone the right to heap their moral judgments on me. It does not give anyone the right to make me the butt of their jokes. It does not give anyone the right to think that Type 2 diabetes is my just punishment for eating and drinking in the exact same way that many Type 1 diabetics and their parents as well as non-diabetic people do. It does not give anyone the right to assume anything about me, what I’ve done or not done, what I’m doing or not doing now, or what I’ll be doing or not doing tomorrow. More importantly, it does not give anyone the right to make themselves look pristine by trying to crush me under their boots.
So what if Mr. Glassman (the non-diabetic Crossfit boss) and Mr. Jonas (the Type 1 diabetic music personality) both think that drinking Coke gave me Type 2 diabetes? Who are they anyway? Why should I care about what they think?
The thing is, I don’t care about what they think. But that’s me. Unfortunately, many people do care about that scarlet “T2D” stamp that ignoramuses keep gluing to our foreheads. The stigma causes a lot of these same people to refrain from seeking medical help, or refrain from opening up and asking for help lest they be also perceived as unfit, or feel so helpless to the point of not caring about themselves. They are the ones I care about and the reason I’m angry. They are the reason I haven’t given up yet.
Hence, from this tumult, a new resolve has emerged. Although I will continue to build bridges with various members of the diabetes community, I will try harder to reach out to other Type 2 diabetics and to convince them that we are not shaped by the opinions of the likes of Mr. Glassman and Mr. Jonas, and that instead of wasting our time and energy defending ourselves in this blame and shame game (where there is no one to blame and nothing to be ashamed of), we should focus on ourselves and our needs, and what we can accomplish.