Imagine my surprise when I'm doing my everyday skim of online newspapers and I run into this caption:
You can imagine as someone who has lived with type-1 diabetes, an auto-immune disease (in simple terms Ms. Rivers...I couldn't do ANYTHING to prevent it), I was stifled by this headline. I went on to read her interview, which took place on Tuesday March 25, 2014.
"Let me ask you something. Lena Dunham, who again I think is terrific, how could she wear dresses above the knee?" the 80-year-old comedian asked Tuesday on the Howard Stern Show.
"I think the thing we love about her is that she doesn't give a s--t," Stern replied, explaining Dunham's body positive philosophy.
"Oh, every woman gives a s--t," Rivers said. "That's wrong. You are sending a message out saying 'It's okay. Stay fat. Get diabetes. Everybody die. Lose your fingers.'"
In these moments, I don't know whether to hop on the next plane and go on a manhunt for Joan Rivers myself to sit her down and explain what diabetes actually is, or if want to break down crying by myself in my apartment because it's 2014 and this is the headline that makes it in all the national press about diabetes.
Though I have a lot of things running in my head of the choice words I would like to say...I'm going to take a deep breath and tell everyone on this blog why what Joan Rivers said was 100% untrue, uninformed, and inappropriate on all levels.
Truth About Diabetes
1. Let's first breakdown that there are TWO types of diabetes and they are different from each other.
Type - 1 (this is the type my younger brother and I have) An auto-immune disease that affects roughly 3 million Americans. Your pancreas stops producing insulin so you have to start checking your blood sugar on a meter 4-6 times a day, as well as giving yourself multiple insulin injections a day or wear an insulin pump 24/7 to stay alive. Insulin is not a cure for diabetes, it's your life support.
Type -2 Your pancreas produces enough insulin but you have an insulin resistance issue. This increases the blood sugar making it so that there needs to be a treatment intervention to get these blood sugars back in control. You have a heightened risk of getting type-2 by a myriad of factors...including certain racial/ethnic backgrounds, gender, family history, older age, and lastly lifestyle choices and weight.
*My point: Type-1 has no choice in getting it. Type-2 there are several contributing factors. Not all overweight people have type-2 diabetes. Yes, it's one of the contributing factors. Which means fat doesn't equal diabetes. Stop fueling ignorance Joan.
2. Diabetes is a very serious disease that affects 26 millions Americans. It's true that more people die of diabetes then breast cancer and AIDS combined. I've found in my travels with meeting and speaking to other people living with diabetes you're not going to get anywhere by scaring or shaming them into living a healthier life. Diabetes is a real disease. It's a chronic condition. Some days I'm exhausted and feel like giving up...but there are no days off of having diabetes. If I don't want to give myself insulin, it puts me in jeopardy of going straight to the hospital.
3. As for your losing fingers comment...you're not clever, funny, or informed. But diabetes is the leading cause for nontraumatic LOWER-limb amputations. The American Diabetes Association says that "More than 60% of nontraumatic lower-limb amputations occur in people with diabetes."
4. And as a side note: THANK YOU Lena Dunham – you’re beautiful and are a positive role model to so many of us woman who are bullied by society thinking we have to look or be a certain way to be beautiful. You rock that bikini!
Joan if you read this...LOOK at everyone one of my 10 beautiful FINGERS with 10 names of people who I've met who live with diabetes every single minute of their lives who had no choice in getting diabetes. They wake up every morning praying for a cure for diabetes and they're the most courageous people I know. Praying that we will get more federal funding from the government to find a cure for this chronic, often exhausting condition. Praying that we will get more media exposure that speaks truth about this condition we live with so that there will be more understanding by the public.
This fight may be formidable, and I may be just a small town, no name girl from northern Minnesota...but I won't stop fighting until a cure is found.
Diabetes Community - Will you sign the petition that I've started on change.org so that we can have our voices heard? Share this post and put up a photo of your fingers with the names of people you know who live with diabetes. #Diabetes10Fingers
Our voices will be heard.