Saturday, October 31, 2009

Pack your bags . . .

. . cause you're going on a guilt-trip. Read on. . .

Nick has had Type 1 diabetes for as long as he can remember. Now, as the holiday season approaches, this little six-year-old is hoping he'll get the one gift he's always wanted: a future free of diabetes.

"I keep tossing pennies into wishing wells and my wish is always a for a cure," says Nick.

At a time of year when most boys Nick's age are dreaming of puppies and baseball mitts and race cars, this little boy is dreaming of a cure.

This is the start of a letter I received recently from the JDRF. And every letter is like this one. In fact this one is disappointingly tame and not as tear-jerker-ish as they usually are. These things are so over the top, so transparent it's sickening. They drive me crazy!

Maybe that stuff works on other people. Maybe this is the way of every charity devoted to helping children in some fashion, whether they are "suffering" with diabetes or starving in Africa. But as someone actually living with diabetes. . . as someone who, 15 years ago, could have been the kid in the letter, it just gets to me. I can't feel sorry for these kids and I won't. I never expected anyone to feel sorry for me and if they tried I promptly assured them that I didn't need their pity. I'm not saying I was a completely well-adjusted kid with Type 1 DM but I was also a firecracker and fiercely independent. I never liked anyone thinking I was anything other than completely with-it and capable. And . . .

(Fair warning: What I'm about to say may make me a huge jack ass in some people's eyes but, oh well.)

I think the JDRF really dropped the ball with this type of advertising and fundraising strategy. Because GUESS WHAT?!? I have juvenile diabetes. And you know what else? I'm not a kid. Does that mean I'm not worth a cure? I've been living with this crap for almost 20 years, I grew up with it and I dealt with it as a kid but I grew up. Thank God. I hope every kid with diabetes gets the chance to grow up. But what happens when they do? Are we going to slap them on the back and say "congrats!" for outgrowing your childhood despite the rigors of diabetes. Oh and, by the way, no one cares about you anymore. You aren't cute and freckle-y and pre-pubescent so you aren't worth a cure. You know what? Screw you!

And that's how these stupid letters make me feel. Like the only people with diabetes who matter, who deserve a cure are the kids. Well most of us started out as kids and, here's an update: we didn't outgrow this disease. And for those with diabetes who got it in college or in adulthood, that's a whole different kinda hard. And, most days, I'm glad I didn't have to go through that particular battle. Puberty and diabetes? Yeah, that's a rough combo. But living your whole life like nothing's wrong and having a career and a family and then, Oops? Everything changes! How you eat. How you think. Every day for the rest of your life. Yeah, that definitely sucks too. At least I don't remember much of my transition from pre-diabetes to post-diabetes.

Bottom line? JDRF, please stop laying it on so thick. I will definitely keep donating and I will "walk for a cure" and do anything I can to help find a cure, because I do need a cure. But I surely don't need a guilt-trip. And to anyone else out there who thinks diabetes is just a little kid disease: Open your eyes and you'll see a whole lotta adults, even "young adults", who are already veterans of this disease. And we all need, and deserve, a cure.

Stepping off my soapbox now,

PS: We played an awesome game today and smoked Georgia!! Go Gators!! And Happy Halloween!! Bring on the trick-or-treaters!!

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