I love the show The Biggest Loser.
I love watching the contestants and their journeys. I love watching them transform their bodies and their lives. I love watching the hell they go through in the gym! And Sweets likes to watch it, too.
I think it's a good show for her to watch. We talk about how hard the contestants work and the importance making good food choices. She likes watching them do the challenges.
Sure, I've gotten aggravated before with the way they ALWAYS refer to type 2 diabetes as just diabetes. It made me... not really angry but... irritated that one season the contestants wore the Dexcom Seven Plus CGM system. Cool -- but what about all those people who need it not for weight loss but to stay alive? I don't know... something about it just didn't sit right with me.
Overall, I love this show. I watch every week!
But this week.... Oy.
Sweets and I were watching the beginning of the show tonight as she was getting ready for bed. This week's theme was facing your biggest fear. And this season they have kids on the show. One of the kids had been diagnosed with pre diabetes. And she said that her biggest fear was sitting in a doctor's office and being told she has diabetes.
Sweets gave me a funny look. She said, "She's afraid of diabetes? I'm not afraid of diabetes."
That's the right attitude, kiddo. You got this.
And had it ended there....
But it didn't.
Something was said about how diabetes can be prevented through diet and exercise.
Sweets turned and looked at me with this face of confusion. It was a mix of "say what?" and "well that just is not true".
I immediately clarified that they were talking about type 2 diabetes and not type 1. I reassured her that nothing could have prevented her diabetes. No amount of exercise or healthy food could have prevented it or could make it go away. I explained how in type 2 the pancreas stops working slowly and in type 1 her body attacked itself and it happened much more quickly and there was no going back. There was some discussion of pumps and shots and when and how.
She was satisfied. She bopped off to bed and all was right in her world.
But I kept watching. And it just got worse.
The segment with the girl came on. They had her go talk with her school counselor who was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes as an adult. She talked about how she had to take her pills and test her blood sugar a few times a day and give herself a shot each night. And she gave herself a shot. And she talked about how angry she was that she had this disease and how hard it was and how it had changed her life.
I'm not really sure what all she said. All I could hear was the blood rushing to my head.
For some reason, it really upset me. And I was not expecting that.
Now, let me just say... diabetes sucks. Type 1, Type 2, LADA... all of it. It IS hard. It DOES change your life. I know that not everyone with Type 2 gets it because of a poor diet and lack of exercise. Sometimes genetics takes the choice away.
But in that moment....
I don't know if I wanted to yell or scream or cry.
I wanted to shout... "Oh POOR YOU. You give yourself ONE shot a day. You take PILLS. You test like what? Three, four times a day? CRY ME A RIVER, LADY! CRY ME A RIVER, BIGGEST LOSER!"
(Side note.... so I've been posting about how I'm coming to terms with this disease and how I don't exactly hate it anymore and see the good more than the bad.... That's all true. And so is the fact that there are still days.... when I don't. When I've had enough. When I'm still angry and sad and overwhelmed. Hey, what can I say? I'm just being real. It's a process.)
I just flew all over me.
The "reality" of diabetes that they are showing.
Well, guess what? THAT is not our reality. It might be similar. But that just scratches the surface.
MY reality is having to hold my three year old down FIVE times a day because she needed FIVE shots a day. A screaming, crying toddler begging her parents not to hurt her.
MY reality is counting every carbohydrate that my child has put into her mouth for the past FOUR YEARS.
MY reality is that no matter what I do, I can't control this disease. And when I don't get it right - SHE is the one who suffers.
MY reality is the constant nagging fear that this disease is going take her life.
HER reality is the countless tiny black spots on her fingers from the countless blood sugar tests.
HER reality is wearing a medical device 24 hours a day.
HER reality is needles. Not pills.
OUR reality is that we did NOTHING to bring this on. There was nothing we could do to prevent it. There is nothing that will make it go away. It's that it's not ME with this disease... it's my CHILD. The one person who I just want to protect. It my job to protect. And I can't.
I just wanted to scream at the tv... You keep saying diabetes this and diabetes that. Do you even know that there are two types? Would it kill you to make a distinction? You keep saying that it's going to kill you. You can control it with diet and exercise. Change your ways before it's too late. Here's your warning... don't become this lady who has to give herself one shot a day.
Well guess what, Biggest Loser? THAT is not my diabetes reality.
All I want is for you to at least acknowledge the difference.
Do we want children or adults to get diabetes because of poor diet and lack of exercise? Of course not. It's a problem. I know that. And I'm not saying type 1 is worse than type 2. It's not that. That's not the point.
The point is this...
I have a seven year old little girl. She is the bravest person I know. She told me tonight that her biggest fear is shots. And yet she gets shots. All the time. Just Friday she had a shot. And then on Saturday she had another needle inserted into her body to leave a small wire that would read her glucose levels. And then on Sunday she had yet another needle inserted into her body when she changed her insulin pump. She has had more shots in her the past four years than most people have in their entire lives. Probably a few times over.
This little girl deals with the highs and lows and frustrations and complications of this disease every single day. There is no end in sight. She did NOTHING to cause this disease. She was only three. Nothing could have stopped it.
She's used to hospitals and blood tests. She used to doctor appointments. She used to feeling different than the other kids.
This little girl who looked at me tonight and said, "I'm not afraid of diabetes". Watching that lady give herself a shot didn't scare her. She's seen worse. She's woken up from a low blood sugar induced seizure looking at paramedics. She's lost time from lows. She's been in the hospital with high blood sugar and ketones. She been really, really sick. She's fallen off the balance beam at gymnastics and had to leave school because her blood sugar is too high. And have I mentioned all the needles?
She's not afraid of diabetes. She doesn't remember a life without it.
As a parent of a child with type 1 diabetes, I just want you to "get" that.