Why It’s Not Your Fault You’re Struggling With Your Diabetes

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You decide as you roll over and pull yourself out of bed that today will be different. Today you’ll stick to your diet, eat only healthy foods, start that walking program and remember to take all your pills or shots. Like clockwork.

By mid-afternoon, if not mid-morning, today becomes like every other day. Good intentions were only that. But it’s not entirely your fault.

As a culture we worship personal responsibility. But as a society we create hurdles at every turn when it comes to health. Being a learned patient about health, diabetes, nutrition and fitness, I’m poised every day to make healthy choices. Then I fly from London to New York.

On my recent Virgin Atlantic flight my dinner was appalling. A sad looking piece of chicken, reconstituted rice, a small salad with Orzo for extra carb, a gummy white roll and dessert. No greens, no fruit, no nutrition.

Ice cream came four hours later, and this snack box before landing. There is no food in these wrappers.

Why It's Not Your Fault You're Struggling With Your Diabetes

Photo courtesy of Riva Greenberg

The Virgin Atlantic website says, “We get all the details just right.” They do if their measure is feeding people cheap, food-like substances to maximize shareholder profit.

Admittedly, personal responsibility would have had me bring my own meal onboard, which I often do. I had forgotten when flying international the food has become as pitiful as when flying domestic. Of course, finding a healthy meal at an airport would not have been easy.

Our government says it wants everyone to be healthy so we now have expanded healthcare accessibility. Yet all that ensures is as people grow sicker, more will have access to a doctor.

If the government supported health, it would farm out its farm subsidies differently. Rather than support the overproduction of corn — that gets turned into inflammatory high fructose corn syrup and used as cheap sweetener in almost everything we eat — it would subsidize farmers who grow vegetables and fruit.

There is a reason why every other TV ad today is for a diabetes drug. And it’s not that people aren’t trying. It’s that personal responsibility will only succeed where there is societal support.

Unfortunately there was another big whack at my taking personal responsibility waiting for me at home. I had received a letter from my health insurance company denying my doctor’s request for a new insulin. Toujeo, a new basal insulin recently on the market, lasts longer (5.2) than its predecessors Lantus and Levemir. This would flatten my morning blood sugar rise and reduce my chance for complications.

I felt betrayed. I pay for health insurance and am an informed patient doing my best. Yet my request for a medicine that can improve my management and quality of life was denied. Why? Shareholder profits — the insulin that would give me better blood sugars is not on their formulary.

Next time someone makes a thoughtless comment like, “Why can’t you control your diabetes? What’s the big deal?!” I want you to know it is a big deal. There is little support out here. You’re not necessarily struggling because of a lack of responsibility.

The weak link in personal responsibility are the many blockades society has erected. For a disease that requires food adherence, healthy food is often unavailable or unaffordable. We need to be active yet streets are not made for walking or bicycling.

Improved medicines are withheld by the insurance companies meant to safeguard our health. Medicare does not cover the cost of continuous glucose monitors for seniors, the very population prone to low blood sugar.

Diabetes care has always stressed “self-management.” But self-management can only be successful for the many when people take personal responsibility and those who govern us support it.

Originally published in The Huffington Post.

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Comments (2)

  1. Wayfinder at

    I’m going to disagree with you as politely as I can.

    You say as a culture we worship personal responsibility. In my Dad’s day, yes. Now, too many people are cry babies with their hand out asking for something for nothing or blaming their woes on someone else.

    I too am furious that insurance companies aren’t paying for what I think they should. But, blame it on corporate profits? These are for profit companies – it’s their job to make a profit.

    Before Obamacare I had a health insurance plan I liked. I thought the price was fair, it paid for even my name brand medicine.

    The company left my state when Obamacare was passed. I was left the choosing the lesser of evils. My premiums went up, copays up dramatically and they wouldn’t pay for any of my brand medications. I figure I’m out about an additional 7K a year.

    “Our government says it wants everyone to be healthy so we now have expanded healthcare accessibility.” Nonsense. They did it so that they can control even more of our lives. I watched a press conference with a politician saying why they thought they had the right to ban large sodas (NY) and he actually said “we’re paying for your heathcare, so we have a right to tell you what you can and can’t eat.”

    Did you really think that Obamacare would save people money? If you did, shame on you. Someone has to pay for all of the new plan requirements and new enrollees. It’s the people who have been paying, we’re now paying more to cover all of this.

    Take a lunch or dinner on the plane – I travel all the time and that’s what I do. Stop crying and do what you say you do – take personal responsibility.

    I don’t want the government in any more of my life than it already is.

    I know I won’t change you, but boy did this feel good.

  2. Wayfinder, I’m glad you wrote your thoughts too – many of which I agree with. I don’t think Obamacare came out how any of us wanted, mostly because of all the concessions forced by the powerful. I do think many people today whine, but I was trying to make a single point which was the refrain in public health, “people will make the healthy choice when the healthy choice is the easy choice.”

    If we want more people to be more responsible, then society has to be involved to help. When Helsinki built bike paths throughout the city people began biking and getting healthier. I’ve been to too many places in America that don’t even have sidewalks; I am the only person walking on the shoulder of the road to get my exercise. Little, if anything, is black or white. Thanks for writing.

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***The opinions and views expressed in this blog belong to the individual contributor and not to ASweetLife or its editors. All information contained on this blog is intended for informational purposes only. The information is not intended to be a replacement or substitute for consultation with a qualified medical professional or for professional medical advice related to diabetes or another medical condition. Please contact your physician or medical professional with any questions and concerns about your medical condition.