Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Children's Congress

Many years ago, Cassie participated in Children's Congress. Although she was not even a kindergardener, JDRF figured she was ready to lobby for diabetes support on Capitol Hill. We wondered how could a kid barely out of diapers do any good in Washington?

Our nation's legislators and their staff have many, many, many meetings with slick corporate lobbyists and captains of industry. But here's the good news. They also make time for average American citizens like us. Voters who have genuine need for the government to step in and act on their behalf. Real people. Taking part in Children's Congress, Cassie helped to put a human face on diabetes for our Congressional representatives. They listened to what a "normal" day was like living diabetes- straight from the mouths of kids and the parents who suffer through it. The scary lows, the late night blood sugar checks and the specter of long term complications.

Cassie sat on Senator Richard Burr's lap for a photo op. After the camera flash popped she shook his hand and told him he was lucky. "Why?" he asked. "Because your sons don't have to take shots that hurt" she answered. It floored us. And I'm sure it struck him in a way that has made him a consistent supporter of diabetes legislation over the years.

Today JDRF announced that it's taking applications for the next Children's Congress that will take place next June (2011). Here's the link to the application if you think your child can help reach our representatives in DC.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Changing the World’s Perception, One Person at a Time

Time for summer vacation at the Maxwells! While we're beaching it and taking it easy, my friend Zach Clayton's pitching in with a guest post on daddybetes. Zach is a dad that's fought hard for a cure for diabetes and currently serves as a national JDRF volunteer. Take it away Zach...

Having returned from vacation, I was going through a week’s worth of newspapers and an article caught my eye. The headline indicated there were stickers for people with diabetes to place on their cars so medical personnel and police would be aware the driver’s erratic behavior may be related to a low (hypoglycemic) or high (hyperglycemic) blood sugar episode.

Before I even read the article, I realized that I had someone that I needed to educate about the “D” word. Yes, I am talking about “diabetic”. For a long time I have lobbied against the use of this word. In short, labeling someone as a “____ic” assumes that the disease defines or becomes the individual. While diabetes is serious, my son is a boy who has diabetes; it doesn’t have him. For a longer discussion on this, see my blog entry titled “What’s in a Name?

As I continued reading the article, I came across a term in the article that both made me laugh and fume. I quote the writer “Some people aren't aware of the symptoms of a diabetic attack. Victims may be dizzy, confused, nervous, agitated or drowsy. They also could have fruity breath or start to vomit.” My first response was “what the hell is a diabetic attack?” Does it mean that diabetes reaches up and attacks my child or my child labeled as a diabetic goes ballistic and attacks someone? I am being facetious, but that term conjures up images people having fits or something. I would prefer the proper terms of hypo- or hyperglycemic episodes.

I realize that I may be hyper-sensitive and some folks, including diabetes folks, may not agree. However, I view it as another opportunity to educate people about diabetes and the fact that you can’t catch it, there is a difference between Type I and II, my son didn’t develop diabetes because he ate too much sugar, etc.

I dropped an e-mail to the writer expressing my thoughts about her use of “diabetic” and “diabetic attack”. She hasn’t responded. Maybe she brushed me off as a whiner, but at least I tried and hopefully have made you think about it as well.