A few weeks ago, I was slogging through some clerical work in my home office. Tedious stuff. Needed a break. I logged into Twitter, scrolled through my feed, and came across this tweet from the US Surgeon General Jerome M. Adams, MD, MPH.
The tweet—from the US. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, MD—that started it all!
My visceral reaction was best summed up by the red-faced angry emoji. You see, I travel the country talking to groups about what life with diabetes is like. On multiple occasions, during events on the road, someone in attendance inevitably asks a question that infers that I was diagnosed with diabetes because I’m overweight.
This, of course, is a misnomer: I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes during my youth and I would’ve been diagnosed whether I’d been 90 pounds or 290 pounds. It was just a crappy genetic roll of the dice I was on the wrong end of.
Happens to many people. But—and I’m assuming here—most don’t have to navigate their plight while being told (from audience members, sure, but also friends, the media, and, of course, the Twittersphere) that, in essence, they were responsible for creating the disease.
Why the red-faced emoji reaction? Imagine if the public had the misconception that you get cancer because you don’t exercise enough. Imagine you’re diagnosed with cancer. Imagine, a week later, having lunch with a friend who says: “It just sucks that you didn’t exercise more. This could have been avoided.” You’re not looking for pity, but dang— you’re not wanting to defend yourself from an incorrect supposition either. What would you do in that situation? I’ll tell you what you’d do: You’d say nothing. You’d swallow it. Because it’s not worth risking your relationship by responding how that feeling in your gut wants you to respond.
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