Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Diabetes Support Review of the Year 2009, part 2

One topic that attracted a lot of interest was whether people viewed diabetes as a disability. Opinions varied, some preferring the term ‘condition’ they do not feel they are disabled, but can do pretty much everything that a non-diabetic can do. There is also a feeling that a ‘good’ diabetic who follows a healthy lifestyle and diet is actually fitter and healthier than the general, non-diabetic population as a whole! There is, however, the legal implication of being included in the Disability Act, whereby employers must make reasonable provision for diabetics, allowing them to test, take breaks if necessary to treat hypos, and not discriminate against them.

From another perspective, the issue was raised in a number of threads of the special considerations for children with diabetes, such as should they be allowed to the front of queues at theme parks and what schools should provide for their care. The increased flexibility of treatment regimes and the attempt to gain tighter blood glucose control mean that there may be more testing, injections or the complexity of pumps for schools to monitor. We have some very forthright and active parents on the forum who fight hard to ensure that children get the care and support they need, whilst living as close as possible a normal childhood. These parents have been of great support over the year to those with newly diagnosed children, who are often frightened, confused and overwhelmed by the diagnosis and all it implies.

Another popular theme was my participation in the Great South Run to raise money for JDRF – popular perhaps because of my persistence in attempting to gain sponsorship! The good news is that we raised over £750 for the charity thanks in no small part to the generosity of our members. The other good news is that I finished with all limbs intact!

Several threads have revealed the great diversity of our membership and the circumstances surrounding their diagnosis. In ‘How long diabetic?’ we discovered that we have many members with over 30, 40 and even 50 years of diabetes, with everyone from a few months to a few years in between. This huge breadth of experience means that our members have encountered many changes and different treatment regimes and there is always someone who can offer advice and support. Those recently diagnosed are a great help too, as they bring to light current care practices that some of the longer-diagnosed members may not be aware of, leading to renewed efforts to get up to date and on track.

Other features of the year have been discussions of glucose meters, statins, neuropathy, medical ID, changing needles and lancets, depression, swine flu, appropriate testing for Type 2s, incompetent doctors and pharmacies, metformin, retinopathy exams, podiatrist visits – topics which have often cropped up many times as new people join with new questions. Our adage remains that there are no silly or stupid questions, even the one I asked about nostrils! And of course, something that only people with diabetes can fully understand, the announcements of improvements in HbA1c scores!

Tomorrow, the lighter side of Diabetes Support in 2009!

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