First, a confession: I am writing this post as my blood sugar, having dipped down to 52 this morning during physical therapy, is shooting up with a double arrow on my CGM, 174 mg/dl and climbing. (And what did I eat for breakfast? An apple with peanut butter. As I have eaten every day for the past three weeks.) I also just started physical therapy yesterday (after having shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum) and have found that some of the stretches are so painful that I actually feel nauseated afterwards. Point being, I’m a little cranky.
But regardless of my current mood, I was frustrated by an article in yesterday’s New York Times called “More Ways to Cope With Type 1 Diabetes.” I’m always happy to see major newspapers devoting coverage to Type 1, and I was intrigued by the article’s headline. But when I read it, I was surprised by how very un-new all its information was. After pointing out how expensive and frustrating it is to live with diabetes and how tight control has been shown to reduce the risk of complications, it talks about how it is “now possible” to measure a substance in blood called glycosylated hemoglobin with a HbA1c test to see “how well blood sugar has been controlled.” Really? An A1c test is news? The article then says that people with Type 1 have more dietary flexibility than they did in the past, and that “the trick is to balance carbohydrate intake with insulin requirements and, at the same time, consume a well-balanced diet.” Oh, and exercise matters, too.
That’s it. Now, as a journalist myself, I know that writers do not have control over the headlines that get assigned to their stories. So it’s not as if Jane Brody was like, “Yes! The hemoglobin A1c test is news!” But at the same time, I was disappointed that an article devoted to Type 1 — presumably the biggest audience for the piece — simply said things that anyone who’s spent a week living with the disease knows already. If the Times really wanted to talk about new ways to cope with Type 1, how about a mention of continuous glucose monitoring systems? Or medications like Symlin? Or JDRF’s efforts to support research for an artificial pancreas? Or a mention of some of the carb-counting apps like Calorie King that you can get on your phone to help you adjust to new foods on the go?
I know that November is national diabetes month and, as such, publications are trying to up their diabetes coverage — which is great. But I hope that some of that coverage also touches on information that’s of interest not just to the general public, but to people who actually live with the disease.