In the last couple of years, I've given the subject of diabetes a lot of thought. I just can't get past one important question of mine. If we are currently in the age of "super technology" in regards to medicine, the Internet in regards to social networking, & communications in regards to television, news media, & phones), then why is it that so many people know less now about diabetes than ever before? Are organizations such as the ADA (American Diabetes Association), JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation), Dlife (Diabetes Life), etc., doing enough to educate the masses outside the World Wide Web? Is it because billions of homes still don't have Internet access, or even a computer in order to get this valuable information? Or is it that people just don't wanna know, until they are finally faced with diabetes in their own lives?
About 30 years ago, I remember an organization called RIF (Reading Is Fundamental), which still exist today. As a child in the late 70's early 80's, I remember they had huge campaigns to get children to read more, and encourage them to get library cards. They also had special tutoring programs for grown adults who could not read. We don't hear from them anymore, and i'm sure it's because of lack of funding (like so many important organizations have to deal with).
The reason why I bring up RIF, is because today in 2011, our society as a whole still does not read as much as we should. When we are reading, we are more likely to be reading part of a newspaper, or a thick novel from a favorite author; before we would read any book about our own health, or self-improvement. Diabetes is overwhelming, and it is a fact that, it is a lot easier to just listen to false cure remedies on television/radio, or a friend's grandma's ancient recipe for curing all disease, rather than pick-up an accredited book on diabetes and actually reading through it.
There are so many additional issues that contributes to the lack of diabetes awareness:
- Doctors practicing with out dated knowledge of diabetes.
- Few time available between doctor/patient visit.
- Professionals that feel they have the basics down packed already, and they don't need to learn anymore.
- Patients don't have a computer or Internet access.
- Patients fear of learning anything outside of what their doctors tell them.
- Cultural differences.
- Conflicts between cultural beliefs and modern medicine.
- Libraries that have almost no books on diabetes, and if it exist, they are often 1990 and older.
- Many diabetics not being able to afford books, because what little they have must go to their medication and supplies.
- Not wanting to deal with the often insane stigma that follows diabetes
- Straight-up in denial about what diabetes can do.
- No access to decent health insurance.
It is my personal opinion, that the above are at least part of what causes most of the diabetic deaths in our country. We must do a better job in terms of diabetic education. The subject of diabetes is way too important to keep solely to yourself; you may not realize it but, when you do, we all suffer indirectly. Having said that, we can't leave everything up to the ADA to teach the world, because the ADA can't get to everyone. Further, the ADA, JDRF, and so on, cannot represent each and every culture. That means, it's up to us individuals to share our stories; it is only by sharing our personal stories do people learn. Each diabetic from all walks of life, should share their successes and failures; so that we can not only learn from each other, but still feel like we can control our diabetes, while staying connect to who we are as a people.
For the same reasons that lack of education (not just academically, but emotionally as well) causes all kinds of social conflicts, spiritual wars, hate, homophobia, labels, assumptions, misunderstandings, rudeness, and a plethora of other ridiculous behavior; not going out of our way to learn about your diabetes, or to share your diabetes, is a disservice to both yourselves and the diabetic community. It is the very reason that stigmas thrive. This is what I feel to be the bulk of the woes that plague many people with diabetes today.
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