Time to Retire: ‘Diabetes Does Not Cause Complications, Diabetes-out-of-Control Does”!!!

retire “We are what we eat.”  Are we?  Of course we aren’t but the saying, which has been around for a long time, does have some meaning to it.  Believe it, don’t believe it; your choice no harm, no foul.

Diabetes does not cause complications, diabetes out-of-control does” is a different story because it is not just a statement and it is used in conferences and lectures and in writings THAT CAN be a bit detrimental to those who hear it and I think it is high-time that we retire this statement for good.

I had a discussion about his phrase recently with a friend of mine and although I understand it’s intent; I’m not so sure, anymore, that is absolutely true, and for many reasons.

To be clear, I have used it myself.  I have said it, I have written about it.  But anything so all-encompassing is something which we should look at and at least think about.  But the more I think about it, the more I feel that it’s not something that can be a white- wash for everyone across-the-board.  ‘Diabetes out of control’ is a very wide open statement and no one is in perfect control, all of the time.  So if everyone cannot be in control all of the time, in a practical means, why say something that 100% of people would fail at, during some point or another?

So now, not only do you have the worry of complications but now you also have the guilt of ‘failing’ at it.  And yet, there is no specific time limit of being out of control determining when or how complications would become evident.  So why say it at all?  The intent is a simple one; should you work diligently at managing your diabetes, you will certainly decrease the chances of complications; well say THAT but the blanket statement, as stated, is either just not completely true, or almost impossible to achieve…….so let’s retire it.

Clearly there is science backing the notion of tighter control decreasing the possibility of complications and that can be discussed and presented as needed.  But I do know that it’s not as cut and dry as this statement reads; and I do not think it should be stated as such.

Picture a newly diagnosed family hearing this for the first time.  Each time they go hypo/hyper-glycemic……well……they failed.  At that moment in time; diabetes is out of control…..right?  And let’s say a college student is away their first semester, and as is the case many times, their blood sugars spiral in all sorts of directions; diabetes is out of control…..right?

Tighter control is always the goal.  You really don’t have to remind many people with diabetes of that fact.  It gets pounded at them from every direction, and we parents do it more than probably we should.  I often try to step back and look at things and, to me, the phrase “diabetes does not cause complications, diabetes out-of-control does” needs to either be lengthened to be explained correctly, or removed altogether.

It’s a ‘sound bite’ that when stated makes a point but in reality; it speaks louder than needed to many who try as hard as they can and do not need to hear something that 100% of those who hear it, will fail at some point or another.  Let’s retire the phrase.

I am a diabetes dad.

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4 replies on “Time to Retire: ‘Diabetes Does Not Cause Complications, Diabetes-out-of-Control Does”!!!”

I agree that it should be retired. I agree that the better control we have, the less complications we have. However, I have an almost 12 year old DS. How much control do I have over his hormones. Also, then comes puberty. We can control for so long, but then the diabetes will try to be in control. It is a lifelong battle of always staying in control for our kids. Once in awhile, we all lose control! As parents we have to say that it is okay that we lost control, or we will all lose our minds! We also have to teach our children to do their best, but even your best will still result in a loss of control. It is the nature of diabetes!

Well said, diabetes causes enough grief and guilt without misleading statements like that. Yes, the DCCT showed that “tight control” reduced (NOT eliminated) your risk of a microvascular complication. The risk of heart problems doesn’t appear to be closely linked to tight control though and may in fact be linked to hypoglyceamia.

In addition a very debilitating complication that has a major impact on lifestyle is hypo unawareness and the risk of that increases with “tight control”. There is also little talk of the increased risk of dying from a hypo when you have “tight” control.

So not only is the statement guilt-inducing but it’s just plain dishonest as well, at best it’s a half-truth and the consequences can be quite devastating.

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