Thursday, January 9, 2014

Diabetes is Concrete

Maybe…concretes is more appropriate?

I am currently in a tangle. And so, so frustrated. It got me thinking how “Diabetes” is so concrete. It’s one of those things: you either have it or you don’t. Maybe that’s a good thing at times, but at other times I feel unfairly singled out. Just because I have this disease, which one is either diagnosed with or is not, and just because it is often misunderstood and scary to those who don’t live with it, doesn't mean I should get slapped with increased paperwork and requirements to prove my control. If a state’s driver license form is going to ask me point blank, “Do you have Insulin-dependent Diabetes?” then they should also ask, “How often do you frequent drive-thrus?” or, “How often do you exceed your caloric intake requirements?” “Have you been to the gym lately?” “Do you actually read your prescription labels?” …oh, and go ahead and prove all that. kthanksbye

I am faced with the fact that because heart attack and stroke episodes, or the possibility of them, are nebulous – the opposite of the concreteness of Diabetes, these people are my driving peers. And while I have to prove my control even though I have never even been in an accident (knock on wood) or received a traffic ticket, they get a free ride. I am treated like it was my fault, like it was something I actively did to get Diabetes, like I can’t be trusted to report my level of disease control on my own – only my doctor has the right credentials to administer such a judgment.

I looked into all of the statistics while completing my Master’s thesis, since there is very little information about Diabetic pilots I had to use Diabetic drivers to cross compare. The reality is, overall, medical conditions only contributed to 1.3% of all traffic accidents included in the report compiled by the DOT in 2009. Twenty percent of these crashes were caused by “Diabetic Reaction” which did not specify between insulin-dependent diabetics or non-insulin-dependent diabetics. “Seizure” and “Black Out” were the two most common medical conditions identified as the cause of traffic accidents with 35% and 29% respectively. It is clear that mechanical failure or driver error are much greater contributors to traffic accidents, at least in the US, and during the study period.

In general, I’m frustrated at the boxes we get pushed into as members of the oh-so-concrete “Diabetes Club”. I’m frustrated people can throw that word out…”Diabetes”…and feel like they know what they are talking about, or have control over us just because they are un-afflicted.


Diabetes is a concrete diagnosis – either your pancreas is busted (or semi-busted) or it’s not, but I hate being singled out just because they can pin this one on me un-nebulous-ly. 



Yes, I added a generous amount of pre- and suffixes. Judge away.