People with T1 Diabetes……..Are they Considered…….”Healthy”? Your Thoughts?

are you healthyI was with a group of people recently and we were discussing some things and one woman stated, referring to her children, “At least my kids are healthy.”

Well one of the children has diabetes.  the child was there and her face told me she felt something different, other than healthy.

So I started wrestling with this discussion in my mind and  I cannot seem to shake it.  My kids do everything every other person does.  They live life.  But they also deal with this insidious disease.  So are they, in essence, considered healthy?

How can you have a disease, which diabetes is, and still be considered healthy?  Is it fair to say, ‘I am healthy but I have diabetes’?  Is it fair to also say, “I am healthy but I have MS”?…or “healthy but I have cancer”?…or “healthy but I have asthma”?

Where is the dividing line?  What is the dividing line? Is a dividing line necessary?

Don’t get me wrong, I get it, and I know many of you do too.  Our kids go through life and they take the world on with a passion.  But they do it with a disease that can turn on them at any time.  So are they ‘healthy’ until such time as it turns on them and return back to being healthy once the hypo-/hyper-glycemic episode passes?

Is it a ‘healthy’-type-of-meaning that only us as parents, or PWDs, understand?  Are people with diabetes healthy?

Any thoughts?

I am a diabetes dad.

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7 replies on “People with T1 Diabetes……..Are they Considered…….”Healthy”? Your Thoughts?”

I think it depends in the context of how the word “healthy” is used. In my view, a “healthy” type 1 would be someone who doesn’t miss classes or work due to “healthy” and “good” care of the disease. If someone doesn’t care for their diabetes well (not checking bg often, eating poorly, not exercising, ignoring symptoms), then they are not “healthy”. Someone who does care for their diabetes as best as they can (checking bg often, eating a balanced diet, exercising, monitoring), I would consider them “healthy”.
A person with a disease shouldn’t be deemed “unhealthy” just because of the disease because then the disease defines them. And that is not something I would want.

This is a question that had crossed my mind many times! I say yes, a person with T1d is healthy! Love hearing stories of people who have lived with it for 50+ years and are still healthy!

I decided early on in this adventure that I would raise my son to not look at diabetes as something that would limit him. So I say that he is healthy.

I was struck by that recently when I brought him to the ER. I was concerned that he may have appendicitis. When asked if he was healthy, I told them he is. Then the nurse went to check hiss blood pressure on the arm where his site was. I asked him to use the other arm, explaining that his pumpnsite was there. He gave me a funny look and reminded me that he had just asked if he is healthy. I apologized and he thanked me for making him realize that he should instead ask if his patients have any health issues.

I’ve debated this in my head often…. good question! Yes, I consider my daughter to be very healthy. She is at her dance studio 21 hours a week, participates in gym at school, has normal blood pressure, normal cholesterol, a better-than-average BMI, gets few colds, etc. So yes, she’s healthy. But an insurer might not think so. An employer might not. I prefer to say she “lives with a chronic condition/disease.”

The notion of “healthy” is supposed to suggest that diabetes (or any other chronic illness) need not limit a person with diabetes from accomplishing what most others do, but use of the term “healthy” is quite frankly complete bull$#!t. Author Deb Butterfield (she wrote “Showdown With Diabetes”) once wrote (see for her commentary) “… we too believe, or want to believe, that if we follow the practices of good control, we are guaranteed a life free of diabetic complications. Not only do we want to believe that; we have been taught to believe that.” But, she also noted that “No doubt, the doctors, with good intentions, are trying to ease the worries of the mothers and children with their platitudes. Using reassuring voices and sweet smiles, nurses convey the message that if you do as you’re told, then everything will be okay – just as in the NDEP (National Diabetes Education Program) campaign, they are telling their patients that diabetes is controllable, and if they control it, they will be fine. But the truth is that no study, not even the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial, has ever been able to show that diabetes management can prevent complications. Of course, in the absence of a cure, diabetes management is important to slow the progression and delay the onset of complications as much as possible, but we should not delude the public, or ourselves, that management is sufficient. At best, it is an inadequate treatment until a cure is found.”

Even assuming the so-called modern medical technology can help, a person’s wallet knows the reality is that truly healthy people simply don’t have to pay co-pays for insulin, test strips, infusion sets, IV prep, alcohol swabs, glucose tablets, and all the other stuff just to survive.

If that is “healthy”, I want a refund, thank you.

As always an amazing post and most welcomed.

So often over my years I have heard the phrase, it is not diabetes that causes complications but rather diabetes out of control that causes complications……sounds like you might have a thought or two about that mind-set. Is it, we need to do all we can to keep diabetes managed, and hope for the best? After PWDs do all they can, it is still only a crap-shoot on who does/does not end up with complications? Does not science tell us otherwise about the correlation between tight(er) control and the possibility of complications?

Would love to see you expand a bit more on your reference/comment to the DCCT. It was always my thought that what you say it did not do; is exactly what it did do. Thoughts?

Thanks Scott.

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