What is the right message?
Generally, I keep my diabetes-themed world separate from my personal world. My friends (outside of the DOC) know I have diabetes, but they don’t want to hear about it 24/7. I understand and respect that. When it comes to my personal Facebook account, it’s rare that I bring up diabetes, except in extenuating circumstances.
This weekend was one of those extenuating circumstances, and this is what I wrote (along with the image to the right, which I shamelessly lifted from a Tweet that had been virally re-Tweeted):
This weekend, I’ve read of two very young children who passed away because doctors failed to diagnose Type 1 diabetes, and a third who was put through a battery of uncomfortable tests before someone thought to do a simple finger-prick (fortunately, that one is doing fine now). There are far too many people — medical professionals included — who aren’t taking the symptoms seriously and who send kids home with antibiotics rather than perform a 5-second test. The consequences range from severe to catastrophic.
If you believe your child may be experiencing these symptoms, have the possibility of T1D checked out definitively and don’t take no for an answer. If your doctor refuses, come see me and I’ll check for you. You can’t afford to wait.
If you’re reading this, I presume you must read other diabetes-related stuff online and you probably know of one if not both of the children I wrote about. I’m not going to post their names here. They didn’t ask to be poster-children and I see no reason to use their likenesses in that manner.
But as for the message, I thought long and hard about that message I wrote on Facebook. After I wrote it, I had second thoughts on what I included. I know it was long and would be skimmed at best. I know people despise being told what to do. I believe that if I overdo it with diabetes-talk, people will tire of me and stop following what I write (which is typically inane nonsense, peculiar observations, or parental joys).
The message, which deserves to be spread well outside of the diabetes-community, has to be short and sweet for it to be effective and for people to take notice. It has to:
- Tell the signs and symptoms.
- Express the urgency.
- Empower someone to challenge their doctors.
I believe I addressed those two points in my long-winded Facebook rant.
But here’s where I failed. I did not communicate that:
- There’s no way to avoid it. Your kid’s diet or lifestyle has absolutely nothing to do with T1D-onset. It’s important for people to not be dismissive and have an “it can’t happen to me” attitude.
- It’s not just for kids. Yes, I wrote it with kids in mind, but adult doctors are also guilty of these mistakes.
- Don’t be afraid, but be afraid. Diabetes is serious stuff when it’s neglected. But when tended to properly, it’s not life-shattering or even dream-shattering.
So how do we express these six bullet-points (not using bullets, because people hate having bullets fired at them) without losing the audience? Do we even try for all six, or just be content with three. I stopped at three, but I know there was left unsaid.
Any ideas? I won’t limit you to Twitter’s 140 characters, but it’s got to be short and sweet. Leave your response in the comments below.
By the way, there’s a reason I’m taking this so personally and so seriously. My son is now one year older than I was diagnosed with T1D, and a strange part of me thinks that its about due time that one of my friend’s kids or one of my kid’s friends is about to be affected. Of course, I don’t want that to happen, and I know that seven or eight isn’t the “ripe” age for diabetes to rear its ugly head (I don’t know that there even is such an age), but the thought still lingers. I can’t help but look at a large group of friends and wonder “what if” one of them drew the short straw? It’s creepy and it’s wrong, I know. But it’s on my mind. Knowing that at least three T1Ds graduated our town’s high school this year makes me think an elementary school diagnosis is inevitable.
I can only hope that the friends my message gets out to, most of whom have young kids like me, will take it seriously and never have to face an unnecessary tragedy. Though a cure is still far, far away, the diagnostic tests are here now; and there’s no reason they shouldn’t be used. Now.
I pray that these are the last two blue candles I ever have to light due to a mis- (or missed) diagnosis.