Friday, May 19, 2006

At what point does it become OK to blame the victim?

Last week a “friend-of-a-friend” (type 2, diet controlled) was hospitalized in diabetic coma. She’s doing OK now, still in the hospital, but my friend was asking me questions like “Is 1200 a high blood sugar?” (you bet!). The doctor said she will need to be on insulin from now on, so I was explaining about how sometimes with type 2 the beta cells burn out and just can’t produce any more. In the course of the conversation it turned out the the woman in the hospital has not been to a doctor or tested her BG in more than ten years!

Made me want to hop into a time machine, go back ten years, and slap her when it might still do some good. I didn’t want to upset my friend, but lord knows what kinds of complications Hospital Woman has set herself up for. Or what kind of success she’ll have now that she has to pay attention to her disease.

I can understand getting burned out with a tight regimen. I personally think it’s worse to have to constantly refuse food you love than to just bolus for what you’re eating. But I can’t understand someone being told you have a serious disease, and just never bothering to do anything other than decide you’ll only have cake on special occasions.

I guess I just can't help feeling a bit pissed off at Hospital Woman. If someone had told me there was something I could have done to avoid taking insulin for the rest of my life, believe me, I would have done it. She has a niece or something with Type 1. Doesn't she know how much this sucks? Doesn't she realize she just threw away what I wish I still had, a body that works on automatic?


Anonymous said...

I agree completely.

Although I would never ever fault a person for their unknowing choices - lifestyle choices that may have lead to Type 2 - knowing the score is a whole different sack of potatoes.

The sad thing, though, is that it is not only Type 2's that become complacent in their treatment or ignore the disease entirely. I've known Type 1's who've found it all too overwhelming, and done this too.

Anonymous said...

Do you honestly know if "Hospital Woman" knew enough to change things?

I'm "lucky" because I watched my father die of complications of diabetes so when I was diagnosed, I took the most proactive choice possible.

BUT it didn't have to be that way. I have lots of Type 2 friends who don't take the care that I do. They and their doctors throw a pill or two at the problem and back themselves on the back.

These people haven't heard of an A1C, much less know what their numbers are.

Christine said...

I didn't know anything about diabetes when it came into my life. Instead of ignoring it, I learned. Yes, it gets overwhelming. But it beats the alternative.

Anonymous said...

The sad thing that you are falling for the stereotype of Type 2.

Probably even more guilty than the uneducated public, since you know about diabetes.

Val said...

My point was that she knew she had a problem. Like Tiffany, I would say that anything up to the point of her diagnosis was beyond her control. However, once she found out, I think never going back to the doctor's is an issue.

That's like being told they see a shadow on your lungs in an X-ray and deciding to cut down on cigarettes. Maybe her doctor should have educated her better - but did she give him the chance to?

I don't really know this woman, though I've met her on a few occasions. So I don't really know all the circumstances. Maybe even if she had done all she could this would have happened. There is a progression of this disease, after all. But if she'd at least saw a doctor once a year or so, they could have had her try other things if diet wasn't working.

The reason I posted was because I was just frustrated with the fact that she didn't seem to care enough about herself to take care of her body.

I needed major financial aid to go to college. I worked 20-30 hours a week during the semester just to be there. And I would see kids whose parents paid the whole tab, extra spending money included, who didn't even bother going to class. And I felt the same frustration with them. Because they were wasting what I was working my ass off to achieve.

I didn't mean for this post to say that she is a "stereotypical type 2" who deserves what happened, because no one deserves any disease. I was just trying to express my frustration that this person wouldn't even go to the doctor - for anything, not just diabetes. Sure, maybe her doctor would be like the one I had for the first six months, who didn't have a clue what he was doing, and would have just thrown pills at it too. But not going at all? Like the college kids not going to class, it's just frustrating to see happen. And that's what I was trying to write about. My frustration.

Scott S said...

I honestly believe that this is one way in which type 1 and type 2 are completely different animals (there are many, but this seems to be a biggie).

I think that people with type 2 find it easier to ignore their condition because they do not feel ill, while a type 1 who completely ignores their condition would rapidly be in DKA or experience hypoglycemia if they failed to manage their condition at all. (True, they may not have great A1Cs, but not taking any insulin would put them into DKA pretty fast.) Either way, its much harder to ignore type 1 while type 2 tends to sneak up on the patient and has none of the rapid "emergency signs" that greet type 1 patients without at least some acknowledgement of the condition.

Since it is now known that many of the complications of type 1 have an autoimmune basis (see my 5/26/2006 post for more details on that), I think the two should really no longer "share" a name, but there is a lot of inertia with the American Diabetes Association which is principally responsible for naming these conditions, and they like to use the big stats associated with type 2 to give urgency to the condition yet also show the tremendous progress towards a cure associated with type 1 which gives the organization a bias against renaming the conditions.