Hi guys - though, I’m not usually a letter writer, Dr. Nancy Snyderman made some seriously whacked out comment on the Today show this morning that linked patients with diabetes to the psychological problem of hoarding, made famous by many an Oprah expose. It made me absolutely crazy, so I wrote this email to the Today show, and am now late for work, oh well.
What do you think, did I go totally overboard?
Hi - during her morning bit on the future of e-doctoring and house calls, it appears that Dr. Snyderman lost her place in the copy and wandered off into medically ungrounded, totally out of left field land when she commented that a doctor on a house call will be able to (and I can’t quote exactly because it frankly made no sense whatsoever, so the exact words have escaped me) examine the social fabric (??) of a diabetic’s life who chronically misses appointments because they can’t get across the living room that they’ve filled with so much stuff.
I certainly hope that you’ll join me in recognizing the utter ridiculousness of this comment. For starters, I don’t think it actually makes any sense. As far as I know, as a Type 1 diabetic and functioning member of the real world, there’s no established link between diabetes, Type 1 or Type 2, and the psychological disorder of hoarding. Maybe Dr. Snyderman has some new inside information on this account, but I highly doubt it.
Unfortunately, her comment goes far beyond her non-sensical words. As I’m sure Dr. Snyderman is aware, diabetes is a monumentally misunderstood condition that comes with loads of emotional baggage and public scrutiny. In throwing together diabetes and hoarding (again, I’m just flabbergasted at the connection), Dr. Snyderman is simply perpetuating the myth that diabetics, without regard to Type 1, 2, or treatment, are irresponsible and downright slothful individuals who require the intervention of the medical elite to save them from themselves. When broadcast on a popular national television show, the damage to the public discourse about diabetes and health in general is almost assured.
While the comment was certainly hurtful to every person with diabetes out there, even those who do also have problems with hoarding, I’m more concerned that Dr. Snyderman was so comfortable using diabetes as a scapegoat of a medical condition. This is the pervasive image and misconception that many of us strive to correct every day. I would hope that Dr. Snyderman would understand and join us in this goal, if only for the health of her patients and the national audience she speaks to every week. The first step to fully treating diabetes in the patient and in the community is removing the stigma so relentlessly placed there by years of misinformation, limited public knowledge, and the sensationalist and inappropriate comments of medical professionals like Dr. Snyderman.
If you take the time to just scratch the surface of diabetes advocacy and networking happening online in and in the world today, you will find a thriving community that proudly supports its members with the compassion and understanding that Dr. Snyderman’s comments are so tragically missing. Social networking services such as TuDiabetes.com, of which I am a member, provide the kind of environment that people with diabetes need in order to embrace their treatment and their own role in their wellness. Otherwise, we’re just left alone with callous off-hand comments like Dr. Snyderman’s and the general perception that we brought our diabetes on ourselves. It’s my hope that the discussions and advocacy started on sites such as TuDiabetes.com (where I will repost this message for the thoughts and comments of my peers) will eventually have a positive impact on the public understanding of diabetes and hopefully even help remove the diabetes bias that seems so firmly planted in Dr. Snyderman’s mind.