Last night Hopie and I watched Nat and Kat win the latest season of The Amazing Race. In addition to winning the million dollars and being a member of the first all female team to with the Race, Nat Strand had another message she wanted her performance to convey. Being an insulin dependant diabetic who uses a pump to help control her blood sugar levels, she wanted everyone in a similar situation to know that diabetes doesn’t have to hold you back from doing just about anything you want to do.
I myself am a 42-year-old Type I Diabetic who is on insulin pump therapy. While I do agree my control could be better, I live a fairly normal life and have never felt that my diabetes was a hindrance. My father was an insulin dependant diabetic who wasn’t as lucky. His health was much more poor my mine. He lost both legs to the disease and spent a lot of time in the hospital, eventually losing the battle at the young age of 45. Still, I saw him get the most out of life when he was able. He chaperoned my elementary school class on field trips. He helped coach my little league team. He worked out in the yard, went swimming, etc.. And then there is my fifteen year old son, who is also on the insulin pump. Seeing him in his daily routine you would have no idea he was a diabetic. (Unfortunately, I think he sometimes forgets, as well.)
The point I am making with this family history is this: I’ve experienced Type I diabetes in various degrees of control and have never really felt, or known anyone who felt, particularly held back by the disease. Not to take anything away from Nat’s message -- it’s a worthy one and I’m sure there are people out there (especially young people who may have recently been diagnosed) who need to hear it -- but compared to other life-threatening diseases and disabilities -- such as cancer, leukemia, MS, MD – diabetes seems rather minor and relatively easy to manage with your daily routine. Looking over a list of famous people who have had diabetes (both Types I and II) – athletes, actors, musicians, politicians, writers, scientists, businessmen, etc. – it should be clear by now that a diabetic can live a full and productive life.
Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe diabetes still has this stigma, but I haven’t seen nor experienced it myself. That being said, way to go Nat Strand! You are an inspiration to many!