An Open Letter to Diabetes
Today is your day. World Diabetes Day. Today the world will talk about you. They should be talking: nearly 86 million Americans have pre diabetes, and over 75 million of them don’t know it. Nearly 30 million American’s have diabetes, and of those 8 million aren’t aware.
It is clear, Diabetes, you don’t discriminate which bodies you show up in. So across all continents, all borders and all populations, people are talking.
They are talking about how they try to win small day-to-day battles, but are up against too much resilience. They are talking about how you have caused millions of people to have a new normal for day-to-day living. They are talking about how tools, technologies, drugs and resources are being put forward to take you on. They are talking about how it is not type 1 or type 2 or any type, it is diabetes and it hurts all of us. Today is the day we get to be grateful for the progress we’ve made against you, angry that you still exist, and hopeful for the future without you.
We hope you don’t get used to this attention on the world stage, because it won’t last long, and soon we will get to celebrate a diabetes “remembrance” day. A day where instead, we’ll be talking about how we “used to have” diabetes.
You have shown a pattern of resistance and resilience. 1 in 3 people will have diabetes by 2050. You do not care how old someone is, where they are from, if they are the first or fifth person in their family with diabetes. You continuously and relentlessly make health care providers utter those stinging words, “You have diabetes.”
In the past you had your fun, wreaking havoc on those who needed to boil needles before injecting insulin and requiring archaic forms of blood glucose tests. Now we have some of the most accurate blood glucose meters out there, and we are moving to a world where we won’t even need to prick our fragile fingertips to know our blood sugar.
In the past you thought you were sneaky, when we did not yet have the ability to track your trends and relied on ten or more snapshots of you throughout the day. But now, there is continuous blood glucose (CGM) monitoring technology that is as painless and accurate as possible.
You thought you had your way when patients did not yet have the biggest voice in the conversation. Since then, patients have lobbied for continued funding of the Special Diabetes Program for diabetes research, and encouraged co-sponsors to sign on to a bill to make CGM technology accessible to everyone who needed one.
You were blindsided when you thought you could hide behind a two or three digit A1C number, without even considering patients would look at outcomes beyond A1C to make progress on managing you.
In the past you thought patients’ lives were dictated by your antics, but you were wrong. Patients are taking control of their own management, and advocating on their own behalf to influence critical decisions made by the FDA. Realizing that they have the power to influence drug technologies, and have CGMs that allow insulin dosages to be based on results. Patients, technology and treatments are progressing, and you are being left behind.
You thought this day was about you, but really it is about the million Americans living with or supporting someone with diabetes, to educate and raise awareness about their disease.
But here’s to you — here’s to where you have been and where you will go. Patients are rising, technology is improving, and you should be scared. Because next year at this time, we will be one year closer to celebrating diabetes remembrance day, across the world.
From individuals who are living with type 1, connected to type 2, and concerned about pre diabetes, our message to you is this:
We know what causes you, we know what can stop you, and we won’t rest until we do.
-Abby and Jenny