The Blame Game

When a person is diagnosed with lung cancer do we blame them? Do we question their lifestyle and then make them feel ashamed? Do we minimize what has happened to them because they possibly brought in on themselves by not listening to the anti-smoking ads?

If a person is young and suffering from dementia do you blame them for drinking too much? Do we shun them because they should have dealt with their alcohol problem before it brought on a much larger issue?

We may shake our heads…and they might also.  We may wish that they had chosen a different lifestyle but we often also look at others who lived that exact same lifestyle and are fine.  We wonder why them?  We feel sad, but we do not blame the victim.

Why then does society feel that it is okay to blame people living with diabetes for their disease? As a parent of a child with diabetes, we are asked if we fed our children a lot of sugar.  It is suggested as mothers that we did not breastfeed our children long enough to ensure that they developed the proper antibodies to protect themselves from developing diabetes.  The list of non-sense reasons go on to the point that parents become frustrated and angry.  They try to distance themselves from people living with Type 2 diabetes which lives with its own stereotypes in hopes of making the blame go away.

People with Type 2 diabetes obviously caused their disease and are therefore to blame for everything. We know that it is a lifestyle disease that strikes people who are overweight, eat only fast food, and are terribly lazy.  It is all their own fault.  Because of their bad behaviors they are the causing  increased hospital costs, increased taxes to pay for those costs, and probably the reason that gas prices are so high!

Can you see the logic? You are right, there is none.  Diabetes seems to have a genetic component of some sort that is triggered by something. If we could figure out the hows and the whys, then we would have a cure and everyone would be quite happy.  Sadly, there is no cure. There is no definitive why.

As a parent of a child with diabetes, I know that I did not force feed my children large amounts of sugar.  My children were not given sweets when they were younger. They did not have a large amount of processed foods. They were breastfed for differing amounts of times and were both vaccinated on schedule.  Did I do something to cause my youngest son’s diabetes? I pray not but I have enough to deal with without delving into a myriad of “what ifs” on the subject.

My son lives with diabetes. He has for the past 14+ years. We have worked and continue to work to keep him as healthy as possible That takes a lot of time, effort and money to purchase the supplies and devices that are best for his care.  The financial cost of keeping him well is nothing compared to the return that the government will get by having a healthy, productive member of society contributing to their tax coffers for many years to come.

As person with Type 2 diabetes also faces many stereotypes.  They are overweight and therefore caused their disease.  They are out of shape and live off of fast food. Really? I know many overweight people who do not have diabetes. I have met athletes in great shape who have Type 2 diabetes.  Does body shape make either one of them any less important? Does their age mean that its their fault?

Do we blame a child for developing Type 1? No, they are innocent but we can blame their parents. They should have done more! Do we blame adults who find out that they are insulin dependent as well but it doesn’t happen until they are in their 20s?30s? or later? I mean they obviously screwed up somewhere as well right?

Are you starting to see the insanity? Why do we waste energy on blame? We do not blame the person with liver failure or dementia for their past lifestyle.  We do not suggest that the parents of a child with leukemia should have breastfed their little one for longer. Why then do we feel the need to blame people living with diabetes?

The answer is not changing a name. As Shakespeare says…”What is in a name? A rose by any other name smells just as sweet.”  Well diabetes–type 1 or type 2, is just as rotten a disease no matter what you call it. No matter what the name of the disease involving the improper use of or production of insulin is, it is still a disease that happened TO someone. It is not a reason to shun or demean someone.

I can think of no other disease that is so misunderstood to the point of creating real danger. A lack of understanding about the serious nature of this disease can result in people with diabetes not having access to the best medications or devices. It can mean that when diagnosed, people with diabetes do not always understand the serious nature of the disease.  It can result in frustration and anger in people living with diabetes when they try to educate the general public, educators and even medical staff about the realities of the disease–its costs and the toll it takes on everyone involved.

It is time to end the blame game.  Diabetes sucks.  That is a fact that we must focus on. It is a very serious disease that does not care what color you are, how old you are or how big your wallet or insurance coverage is.  It will enter your life and change it completely.  It will threaten to end your life. It will always hover on the sidelines waiting to wreak havoc on your day. It must be stopped but sadly we must first end the blame and so that we can all focus on the cure.

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5 thoughts on “The Blame Game”

  1. Well said. I have two children and a sister, all with type 1. My kids were 5 and 14 when they developed Type 1, and my sister was 17 (is now in her early 50s). I was asked many questions as the mom about whether or not I breastfed (yes), did I give them too many sweets (no), did I have diabetes in my family (yes). People often judge my sister on her eating habits and lifestyle and how her diabetes must be “self-inflicted”. Your comparison of blaming someone with cancer is very apt. I think that people want to blame someone/something so they can understand how it happened – they are probably frightened of becoming someone with diabetes. If they know who’s at fault, perhaps they can prevent it from happening to them. Thank you for your blog and diabetes awareness support!

  2. Very well written and may I say, one of a kind. Usually some other articles come as close as dancing around the issue
    which sounds almost politically correct. I have experienced the effects of the blame game first hand ( I have a type 2 diabetes ). It’s detrimental and non-proactive and it doesn’t help to manage diabetes efficiently. Some sources also dance around the issue of type 2 diabetes as being autoimmune; the most they do is to hint but that’s all. I personally believe that autoimmunity does play a role, but it’s far more convenient to proceed blaming the victim.

    Will reblog; thanks for posting this.

  3. I do believe we have to find a cause or causes if we are going to prevent t1d. Genetic analysis of the fetus might be important. I think it would be crazy to abort every fetus carrying the genes for t1d, but,–let’s face it,– that’s what is happening to fetuses who would develop Muscular Distrophy or Down’s Syndrome and, probably, other genetic diseases such as Huntington’s and we can tell with certainty with some fetuses that they will develop t1d, but we do not know when. I wouldn’t blame the mother or the child or the adult with t1d because they have t1d. I wouldn’t even blame the person with t2d because not all t2d can be prevented either. What drives me nuts is when people think you are criticizing all nurses or all teachers or all doctors when you criticize the bizarre beliefs of some doctors or nurses about type 1 diabetes and its management. I’m still wondering why doctors would not endorse insulin pumps in the hospital if the patient and his family member is fully trained and able to use the technology. After all, they use infinitely more complicated technology every day than my little insulin pump and sensor. They even tell other patients to bring in their CPAP machine, hearing aids, eye glasses, wheelchairs, walkers, etc. or why does an insulin pump set their teeth on edge?

    1. Thanks for your comment, Dianna. I believe that T2D cannot be prevented but it can be delayed. Up to today, there is no definite explanation why some people develop it while some others don’t. Some thin & physically active people get it and some overweight people don’t. I further believe that the cause is genetic and possibly autoimmune. However it’s easier to say that it’s your own fault.

      I am not criticizing all nurses or all doctors. Only those that I was in contact with. My diagnosis was delivered in a very uncompassionate way. My (now former) doctor has charted the following: “definitely diabetes mellitus.” Well, well, both type 1 and type 2 are diabetes mellitus, this show how much this doctor really knows about diabetes. Up to today I wonder maybe it’s a type 1 that starts out slowly. Both types can happen in any age. I do not mean to criticize everyone, though. Only those that I personally had a bad experience with.

      You’re saying that the patients at your workplace are required to bring in their own equipment. Before I went on disability, I used to work on a hospital floor. The patients were required of course having their own things like hearing aids and eye glasses but not everything else that you list. If they had to use a CPAP machine or wheelchairs, walkers etc. this would have been provided by the hospital. Of course, things might be different in the different facilities, I understand that. Not sure about the insulin pumps as back then I was completely unaware of their existence.

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