Wednesday, March 19, 2008

I Am Not Suffering. . .

I have a few pet peeves. One of them is the assumption many people make that if you have a chronic medical condition, you must be suffering. This has come to the surface a number of times recently.

A few days ago, I received a call from a representative of the American Diabetes Association (ADA) asking if I would take part in their "Friends and Family" campaign. They want to send me a package of materials and they ask that I send out a minimum of 10 letters with the materials in them to friends and family members asking them to make contributions to the Association and its efforts. I agreed to do so.

Then the woman asked me if anyone in my family had diabetes. I told her that I had Type 2 diabetes, to which she responded, "Oh, I am so sorry!" I assured her that there was no reason for her to be sorry, that I had been living an active life since being diagnosed about 18 years ago and that, for the most part, I maintained fairly tight glucose control through a combination of medication, diet and exercise. It seemed strange to me that someone calling me on behalf of the ADA, of which I am a member, would respond to me as if I must be suffering from a debilitating affliction.

Another example: I often participate in surveys over the internet. Invariably, when I check "diabetes" on the list of medical conditions I might have been diagnosed to have, the next question is: "How long have you suffered from diabetes?" Why do the researchers who write these survey instruments assume that people with diabetes suffer? Are they assuming that we don't consult doctors and, therefore, we do nothing to control our glucose levels? If that were the case, I guess I would suffer the consequences of being in denial and refusing to address the medical condition.

I wish I could say to the survey writers, "I don't suffer from diabetes, I live with it." Yes, I do without some foods that I would love to eat. Yes, I am always trying to lose a few more pounds. Yes, I regularly see an endocrinologist to determine whether my diet, exercise, medication regimen ought to be adjusted. But there really is absolutely nothing that I want to do in life that I cannot do because of diabetes. Really, I am not suffering!

Well, that's my rant for today. I have been thinking about this for some time. I don't understand how some people react. It seems to me that if you decide to continue to enjoy your life, you make the necessary adjustments and get on with it. And most of my friends who have chronic medical conditions are doing just that.


Shauna Roberts said...

People like this bug me too. But the opposite—people who get annoyed or angry or even indignant when one takes steps necessary for one's condition—are worse.

bonnie said...

Asthma. Hello. Can't you tell?

Actually further to your point about "suffering from being in denial" - most of the time it's so low grade that it doesn't hold me back at all - but there are certain things that get me going (dust, bronchitis at tail-ends of colds, etc.), and the few times I've gotten myself worked into a serious attack, it's usually 'cause I just wasn't paying attention & didn't start treating until the attack was well set in. So there I am in the doctor's office having my nebulizer treatment & just thinking "Cripes, how stupid is this?"

Then there was the time somebody put me on prednisone without really saying anything about the side effects...yeesh.

Eric Valentine said...

Good post Leon, I can sympathise with all you say. Many times I go through the same thing with my COPD.

As you know I write about it occassionally even though I'm not suffering, just as an update.. but still I get those concerned responses..

Have a good Easter my frined and easy on the choclate.. :)

Judith Shapiro said...

Any one of us can consider ourselves suffering of something if we like, to one degree or another - But to what purpose, a negative mindset of no use, IMHO. That said, how many times over the years have I made assumptions about others, condescendingly, oh, how brave of them; how lonely they are; how blah, blah, blah; how full of myself I've been! Fortunetly, I think it's lessened as I get older. Thanks for the reminder.

Leon said...

Thank you Shauna, Bonnie, Eric and Judith for your comments. In fact, you all may have triggered a future post in which I talk mre about "Living in the now" and "choosing life" in the face of medical challenges. After all that's what it's all about, isn't it?