Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Beyond 'I'm a Diabetic,' Little Common Ground

Beyond 'I'm a Diabetic,' Little Common Ground - New York Times

This article in the New York Times just serves to highlight our nation's ignorance of a major disease, diabetes. Focusing on the struggles and concerns of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation versus the American Diabetes Association, the article describes a situation with few winners, some fingerpointers and many folks ignorant of any concerns.

The JDRF focuses entirely on Type 1 diabetes, where the ADA spreads it's research and funding across Type 1, Type 2 and general support of diabetics, and diabetic education. Type 1 diabetics make up about 1 million individuals compared to around 20 million affected by Type 2. So the question is, why have the JDRF at all?

Type 1 diabetes kills. Did you know that? Maybe you've heard that, or not. Or maybe you've seen someone on TV with Type 1 but I'd bet you could no more tell me anything useful about it than it requires insulin shots. The fact is that Type 1 diabetes is a total failure of the body to produce insulin and provide controls for it. Type 1 diabetics can be rendered unconscious very quickly with strong diviations in blood sugar because of that.

Contrast that to Type 2 diabetics, many of whom don't even know they are diabetic. Heck, I didn't know until a few months ago. Many of these folks, sadly, are in the fat, ignorant and happy category. To make matters more different than Type 1 sufferers, many of those that know they have Type 2 fail to treat it. Why is that? It is the lack of dire immediate or short term consequences. Until a Type 2 diabetic experiences perhaps total pancreas failure, i.e. no more insulin, they suffer stricly long term affects.

The JDRF believes because of this contrast that many of those with Type 2 fail to recognize the deadliness and struggles of those with Type 1. Also, because of the widespread nature of Type 2, and it's greater publicity, many in JDRF fear that Type 1 diabetics will get left by the way side.

How does support work out in practice? From the article, it appears that the JDRF bring in nearly as much as the ADA, and spends a decided amount more on research for Type 1 than the ADA. Not only do they solicit often, but effectively, resulting in more dollars/member of funding even than the ADA.

So are the concerns of the JDRF valid? I don't know. It seems to me if you have some of the best funding to be had, and that's the most important thing, then be happy. Why worry about whether those with Type 2 'get it'? Heck, perhaps they should show a bit of concern for those with Type 2, especially not those in the fat, dumb, and happy group. Like a young gentleman I heard about who was very athelitic, and generally very healthy, who suddenly discovered he had high blood sugar. He went from no concern to pills in zero flat.

I vote everyone works hard to find cures, doesn't take sides and gets on with their lives.

Over and out,

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