Sensationalizing Diabetes

As I do most mornings before getting up I trawl through newspaper headlines to see what’s out there regarding health and diabetes.

My first love, my passion, educating sharing information about new health issues that can either help or make someone’s life, just slightly more bearable.

This morning like any other I did the same, to my dismay most of the postings I found portrayed diabetes in a negative light, sensational headlines mostly about the complications of diabetes.

The things that go wrong, amputations, blindness, kidney failure I know the public need to know and I know sometimes as health professionals it becomes frustrating when educating someone ‘living with diabetes’, who just can’t seem to hear what you are saying.

I know when in the past I held education sessions with newly diagnosed Type 1’s (mostly parents) and Type 2’s. I have asked what they know about diabetes – it’s always the negative information.

People do actually live a long healthy life with diabetes! Shock horror – write about them.

Moving forward and enabling someone, motivating them into taking charge of their ‘long-term condition’. Listening, learning from them a positive attitude, compassion and empathy help.

Firstly, find common ground. What inspires them? What would they like to be able to do with their diabetes? Even if it’s completely unrealistic because the ownership and the person living with diabetes are them, not you.

Even though we have research that says ‘if you do x’ ‘then y will happen’ it isn’t always the case.

Empowering someone to self-manage and self-care will not happen by sensationalizing diabetes, by writing stories in newspapers about someone living with diabetes and fighting the condition, who has gone blind, had amputations etc…..

The real story is behind the story what was their journey? how did they get there? what didn’t they do? did they monitor their blood sugars? eat a healthy diet? was their overall control within healthy parameters most of the time?

That is where the lessons are to be learned because they will know, even though they haven’t verbalized it if they had taken control of their diabetes it may not have ended in this way. That is a lot of pressure and expectation from someone – they are human.

I feel as if I have ended negatively but I know and the diabetes population knows their successes, those that live full and healthy lives…..and there are perfectly healthy babies born every day to mothers living with diabetes.

First published LinkedIn 4 august 2015

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