Guest Post by Anna “Fat Cat Anna” Kiff

On November 17, 2010 by Cherise Shockley

Being a Type I diabetic and/or having a Type I child can be extremely demanding, both mentally and physically.  I never really thought about this before joining up to DOC’s (diabetic online communities). I didn’t realize that others were in the same boat – I basically dealt with my diabetes on my own, and it’s been a roller coaster ride.  Yes, I do have an endocrinologist that I see every 6 months, but all he is concerned about is my A1C reading.  Sometimes we’ll discuss the ongoing research that has come across my desktop, but basically, he feels I do a good job managing my diabetes, and leaves me to it.  That’s where the DOC has played an important role in my life, as it has for many other diabetics around our big blue marble.  I can talk about the day-to-day issues, the ones we all have to live with.

The ability to adapt to this chronic disease is really a testament to the human spirit and our ability to adapt to difficult situations.  However, as we adapt I think we can lose some of our perspective.  I have read in blogs and/or forums where diabetics are struggling with issues and looking for help.  The responses they get from other diabetics are sometimes so self-righteous and insensitive that they are downright hurtful, and honestly sometimes have made me want to no longer be involved in the DOC.   Because we are all so different (e.g. age, metabolism, activity level, and other medical issues), the level of difficulty in maintaining ones diabetes varies from individual to individual.  When a parent writes that they are struggling with their child’s diabetes, do we step back and consider that they may be a stressed out single parent who work long hours to support their family?  Or perhaps that active child may have other health issues impacting their overall diabetes care?  If you have near perfect control but do not exercise and/or maintain an active lifestyle, you may think we have it all figured out!  The question that goes through my head at that point …

Are you really doing what is best for your overall health, and how can I or someone else judge you?

One specific subject that really bothers me, is when someone blogs about pump related problems; they are either immediately dismissed as to not knowing what they are doing – “go read the manual you dummy, I don’t have this problem!” or “it’s a one in a million chance” and “it can’t happen to me” type of response.   That is BS as far as I’m concerned – especially with some of the emails I’ve received in confidence ever since I blogged and opened up forum discussions about the pump and Steven Krueger at Diabetes1.org and a few at Tudiabetes.  Steven’s insulin pump primed the whole contents of his insulin cartridge into his body while he was sleeping, resulting in his untimely death.

We have to realize that  insulin pumps do malfunction, perhaps more often then we are willing to admit.  Earlier in the Springtime the FDA called a meeting to discuss the numerous reported problems with insulin pumps – and since then – the ball has started to roll (more information can found at this link.  I understand the desire to not want to confront this issue, but it is ultimately better for all of us to take each story seriously, to encourage those that may have had a bad experience to come forward, and to hold the manufacturer’s accountable.

Yes, we all do dumb things sometimes, and unfortunately diabetes is not very forgiving when this happens.  Let’s have some empathy towards our fellow humans who are impacted by this disease, and always show our civility when we are in forums or responding to a heart-felt blogger.  We are bigger than this disease, and lets help each other beat it!

Anna, Person Living with Type 1 Diabetes

You can read more about Anna on her blog: Anna’s Blog

Follow Anna on Twitter @fatcatanna

8 Responses to “Guest Post by Anna “Fat Cat Anna” Kiff”

  • Looking things up in the manual sometimes isn’t an option. I went over the Ping manuals fairly aggressively and couldn’t find a way to customize the pump name on the associated meter. It took a good month of repeated calls and mail to One Touch to get them. (see http://www.ydmv.net/2010/11/remote-reply.html if you would like the info)

    I think we have a social obligation to share what we learn about devices. That how we learn.

  • Since this post was submitted over a month ago to Cherise a better link to the FDA about the meeting that was held back on March 5th is now available -http://www.fda.gov/AdvisoryCommittees/CommitteesMeetingMaterials/MedicalDevices/MedicalDevicesAdvisoryCommittee/GeneralHospitalandPersonalUseDevicesPanel/ucm202773.htm

  • Nice post, Anna. And nice to see your smiling face, too!

    :) AmyT

  • Couldn’t agree more Anna. How does anyone in our community have a right to judge? We push so hard against those who don’t understand and judge, how can we turn around and do the same thing? Beyond me. Disagree? Sure. Not be happy with? Sure. But to act with un-kind words and rudeness is just unacceptable.

  • Anna, you are right on about pump malfunctions. Just pulled up an article I had read a while back that said there have been 18 pump recalls over the past 5 years. It also says that the FDA noted 17,000 reports of health problems and 310 deaths of pump users over a 3 year period. They criticized the manufacturers for not investigating the reported problems to determine if there was device failure! Pump users that have had problems need to speak up, so we can determine if our pumps are really safe.

    The article is at: http://blogs.wsj.com/health/2010/03/03/fda-finds-problems-with-insulin-pumps-across-manufacturers/

  • ANNA – I love this blog. I especially love the part about how we adapt to the demands of the disease. Before we were diagnosed, if someone had said to us, “You’re going to be wearing a tube in your skin forever” or “You need to stab your body 8 times a day with sharp objects”…we probably would’ve thought, “Oh my gosh, no, I could never do that.”

    But when the time comes, we rise to the occasion.

    xoxoxooxoxoxox
    Ginger

  • awesome awesome post. To be honest this is why i no longer am a member of TuD. Bashing of my t2 husband because he didnt do what others felt they must. I wont lie reading about the pump priming itself has just scared me to death.

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