I originally posted this as a discussion over on Diabetes TalkFest, but am curious about thoughts here…
During the lead-up to Type 1 Awareness Day, I have become aware of the extent of what some are calling the “OC” (Online Community for PWD), I am beginning to wonder if Diabetes, Life With Diabetes, or whatever you wish to call it/us, is evolving into a Culture – somewhat analagous to Deaf Culture, or to the cultures of minority religions in mainstream society.
We have our own shorthand, which is almost a subdialect. Words such as “carbs”, “pens”, “shooting up”, and “pumping up” have different meanings to us; we bandy about abbreviations such as bg/bs, A1C, and the various medications and regimens we are on to control this condition.
We have, to some degree, our own diet. We may argue about it incessantly, but in the end we tweak even the latest-and-greatest fad glucose-control diet to our own needs.
We have our own lay gurus, who have blazed paths through the medical and legal corpus; some of us even manage to wade through the technobabble and bureaucratese ourselves.
Our lifestyles are often different than the non-Diabetics among which we live – set schedules, set menus, “did-I-exercise-today”, “do-I-need-to-correct-for-that-LifeSaver?”, and “Do-I-have-emergency-sugar-with-me-in-case-of-a-low?”. We live with a constant, underlying subtext of fear: fear of dying early, fear of complications, fear of dying piece by painful piece… We try to appear assimilated, we drown out the noise with social niceties… but deep down inside, we know We Are Different.
Like any Culture, we have class divisions – Type 1 versus Type 2 versus MODY and LADA – taking the place of those who were raised in The Culture and those who adopted The Culture later on in life. We even have people who are Culturally Diabetic without having diabetes themselves – some folk call them “Type 3s”.
Against the idea of Culture, we still all walk different paths in life. We don’t gravitate to a single set of professions. We don’t socially gravitate towards others with diabetes in favor of those without. Most of us are neither evangelists towards the diagnosed-but-not-socially-connected, nor do we deliberately hide our culturally-specific rituals (checking BG, correcting for highs/lows, etc.) from the mainstream. While our rites of initiation may be held in the privacy of a doctor’s office or a CDE’s office, we do not deliberately shroud them in secrecy.
What defines a Culture, as opposed to merely a Community? Are We There Already? Are we evolving towards a Culture? Should we be?
[I defy anyone outside the Culture to decipher this: T2 dx 7/2002, d&e; T3 to T2 Parent (metaglip) and T2 SO (metformin)]