Diabetes tries to steal moments from me every second of every day. I choose to steal these moments back. Thus, the chosen name for my attitude toward diabetes, Outlaw Diabetic.
Unlike the majority of the 360 million diabetics worldwide, I did not become a diabetic in my adult life. I became a type I diabetic at 14 months old. As a result, I have never had to change my way of life as a result of the disease. This simple fact has been a blessing in disguise. Far too many adult onset or type II diabetics fail to recognize the severity and sum of their choices in life have culminated in type II diabetes. Further, once diagnosed both types I and II diabetics are overwhelmed with negative information about the effects of diabetes. In many cases, new diabetics mentally retreat and never come to realize the life that should be lived, diabetes, or not.
Life doesn’t care if I’m diabetic. My life and the diabetes within it are my own. The attitude I have adapted over my 40 years with diabetes is one of recognition of a disease, while not allowing this recognition to limit my abilities or desires to achieve in any way.
I find it amusing when people are quick to provide reasons why diabetics can’t do something, or tell me my life has been easier as a type I diabetic that was diagnosed as a child, as opposed to becoming a type II diabetic as an adult. Really? You mean it was easier for me as a kid to control my desire to gorge myself with friends on chocolate cake than for an adult Type II diabetic to control the same urge? How about we stop making excuses? My Outlaw attitude is short of acceptance of excuses.
I have all the patience and advocacy in the world for diabetes and it’s implications. However, I do not allow myself or other diabetics to make excuses that will ultimately lead to a shortened or diminished life as a result of bad diabetic decisions. The reality is these consequences are completely avoidable.
Stop making excuses and hold yourself accountable. If not, legislative bodies may begin to step in. I discovered this week that the European Union has created legislation to revoke driver’s licenses of diabetics who have low blood sugar episodes more than twice per year. I am sure this is a non-diabetics logical attempt to reduce the number of diabetic related accidents. The European Union is failing to realize if this legislation is enacted, diabetes expense will begin to grow annually as a result of higher blood sugar across all driving age European diabetics. This will result in increased medical expense to the European Union far in excess of accidents resulting from diabetes, in addition to greater loss of life.
The growth of diabetes across the planet is leaving the rest of us to bare the blame and financial burden of individual’s bad decisions. My attitude about my diabetes is to control and carry my responsibility of my disease. I cannot fathom allowing my decisions to allow my disease to impact my family or my work counterpart’s cost of health insurance as a result of my poor decisions. At $4,500 annually per diabetic in the US in direct medical expense, or $150 billion in total, I wish more of my diabetic counterparts had a similar Outlaw attitude.
Trey Stephens is a diabetes advocate who blogs at Outlaw Diabetic.
Submit a guest post and be heard on social media’s leading physician voice.