First of all, do not accuse me of not having a sense of humor. Anyone who has ever met me knows that’s about all I truly do have (ha ha!)
But when I read the prompt for today’s health activist writer’s challenge I’ve been participating in, the hair stood up on the back of my neck. Here it is:
Miracle Cure. Write a news-style article on a miracle cure. What’s the cure? How do you get the cure? Be sure to include a disclaimer
I didn’t put the wink there, they did. I guess the idea is to go over the top and have some fun with something like, say, “Chewing tree bark cures Type 1 diabetes!” By putting a funny spin on it, I guess folks could work out their frustrations with cure claims, the media and the world in general.
Not happening here. Because, you see, I’ve been on the other side of the “cure announcements.” I’ve read them in newspapers and on line. I’ve heard about them in the pharmacy line (“Did you know they have pills for that now?” “My uncle had diabetes and now it’s gone!”) I’m educated in research enough that parents – and people with Type 1 diabetes – reach out to me often, asking me about one claim or another. And I have to be all Debbie Downer on them. I have to be the one who says….well, this is not the answer. I hate having to do that. I hate reading (huge banner headline here) DIABETES CURED!!! And then in six point type below….. in mice. Not that I don’t celebrate every discovery; I do. But when someone who really needs a break and to be able to see the finish line thinks they see it and it’s a mirage, well that just stinks even more than a Dr. Oz attempt at explaining diabetes. (and that’s pretty stinky there, folks).
Maybe it’s different for other disease groups; this I do not know. But I do know this: there is no remission for Type 1 diabetes. There is no break. Every day, every hour darn it, we have to think about it and deal with it and wrestle it and try to rise above it and just plain have it.
And I hate it. I hate all of it. So to ask to put on the web, and into google search and whatever other kind of on line search the frightened mom of the newly diagnosed child might do at 2:15 a.m., alone and scared in her home, lines on her face illuminated only by the computer glow, even a joke with a disclaimer at the end (wink, wink, we’re just jivin’ ya!) seems to me almost inhumane.
It’s not that we diabetes folks don’t have jokes. I mean, watch this. And who of us has not perfected our Wilfred Brimley “die-ahhh-beeeee-tussssss” trick? In our world, we all use humor to get by. (Want to see a D-Mom laugh until she almost pukes? Have her talk about “regulation.” Or “stabilization.” Ohhh, we crack ourselves up!)
Sometimes our internal D-humor even creeps out into the real world. One time I was having coffee with a group of non d-world friends and was talking about some thing or the other Lauren had done that constituted misbehavior. (She was little. Who knows now what it was?) So one friend leaned in and said, “What did you do when you caught her?” With a straight face I said, “I looked at her and said ‘See? That’s why you have diabetes. Because you’re bad!’” The mom almost passed out, then regained her composure and said, “Moira! What a terrible thing to say to a child!” Well, duh. I didn’t actually say that. It’s just some D-humor. So apparently, those jokes don’t work outside our little world so well.
We laugh at silly things that have happened along the way, too. See?
But this? I just cannot do it. The new world of information at your fingertips has, if you ask me, hurt families dealing with diabetes to some point. True, we can all find support and information in a heartbeat. And that’s great. But just one silly un-researched news story can take off like crazy and build false hope, and then crush hope.
We don’t need that. There is plenty of real stuff to be hopeful about. There are so many amazing studies and research programs under way. So today, no dice on the WEGO.
Now excuse me while I go to the mirror and practice.