It’s day four of Diabetes Awareness Month and I am feeling a little burnt out. Already.
My social media feeds have been washed in blue; it’s Friday and I am in head-to-toe blue, and my kid went off to school today wearing blue pom poms in her hair and a blue circle pinned to her school shirt.
My inbox is full of requests to promote a new awareness initiative or to fund a new campaign, and I am preparing for talks I am giving throughout the month where I will be speaking about real life with diabetes, or the importance of including people with diabetes in the development and running of programs and services for us.
Buildings will be lit up in blue, the media will be (mis)reporting diabetes and there will be blue everywhere. Blue. Blue. Blue.
I’ve been thinking back to my diagnosis and how I thought my life with diabetes was going to turn out. I was promised a cure when I was diagnosed eighteen and a half years ago: ‘There will be a cure in five years – ten at the most.’ I believed it. I really believed it. And I figured that I could manage this diabetes palaver for five years – ten at the most.
Where is my cure?
I write about progress and my excitement at diabetes technology and how it has absolutely changed my life. In my (relatively short) time with diabetes I have been the beneficiary of these new technologies, of better insulins, of smart devices, of support programs, of outstanding education. I am one of the lucky ones.
And yet my cure seems as elusive today as it did when I was diagnosed – in fact more so, because now…now I don’t believe it will be here in five years – ten at the most.
I feel ungrateful even asking for it – I have access to everything I need to manage my condition. My life with diabetes is good. I even had a kid with this stupid condition doing everything in its power to stop that happening. And, let’s be honest, I’ve made a career out of it too.
I write here about the trials and tribulations of this condition, but I know that I am mostly preaching to the converted – those who know what I mean when I write words of daily frustrations, celebrations, victories and annoyances. And that’s okay. You are my tribe and I love you hard – I really do.
But those outside our world don’t know it, and they see me and think it is all okay.
It’s not. It’s not okay for me in my ridiculously privileged diabetes world. And, even more so, it is not okay for people who die because they can’t access insulin. It is not okay for people who struggle so much with the daily tasks of this condition that they can barely raise their head from the pillow. It is not okay for those who feel so stigmatised by diabetes that they refuse to tell anyone about it for fear of retribution and shame. It is not okay that diabetes is a punchline for every piss-poor comedian.
And it’s not okay that there is no cure. I can close my eyes and instantly be transported back to the room where I had my first insulin injection, and I can see the endocrinologist and hear his voice and the words I no longer believe. ‘There will be a cure in five years – ten at the most.’ No. No there won’t.