Just Get It Right, Will Ya?

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Most people have linens in their linen closet. I have five kittens in mine. In addition to the linens, of course. The kittens are living behind the washcloths. Number one was born on my scooter seat (I wasn’t in it at the time) last Thursday. I think. I lose track of these things. Once Mama Cat got her eldest offspring cleaned up to her satisfaction, she trotted off with it to the linen closet and had four more.

That brought our menagerie of seven cats to 12, which includes two seven-month-old kittens, alternately called M(2) and Ritz, Frick and Frack, or the Katzenjammer Brats. Those two are polydactyl cats, meaning they have extra toes. Their front paws look like mittens, so they basically have opposable thumbs. M(2) can take the keys out of my scooter. One, or both, of them can turn the lever-style faucets on in the bathroom sink. I shudder to think what they’ll be able to do as they age. I can see them opening the front door, which has a lever instead of a knob, when they get big enough to reach it. One day last week, they invented a game: They knocked some papers off the dining room table and would run, jump on the papers, and slide across the floor.

They’re about as frustrating as listening to talking heads do a report on diabetes. Twice in the past three weeks, I’ve hit the ceiling during a report about diabetes on television. The problem is, I’m very much a print person and tend to not remember very well if it’s audio. I have to listen to it several times.

Be that as it may, the latest was yesterday morning when some cardiac kind of doctor went on to announce, alarmingly, that whole wheat (or maybe whole-grain) breads…get this…raise your blood sugar! Just the same as white bread does! Horrors! And this happens, mind you, in people with diabetes, with prediabetes, and even pre-prediabetes.

What in the blue blazes is pre-prediabetes? I certainly don’t know, and the interviewer didn’t ask. Maybe it’s people with beta-cell dysfunction, which precedes diabetes. I know it precedes Type 2. I don’t know if “beta cell dysfunction” would also define your body attacking and killing the beta cells, as it does in Type 1.

On the glycemic index, stone-ground whole wheat bread is 53, white bread is 70, and 100% whole wheat is 77. The GI is a measure of the extent to which blood glucose rises after eating different foods. The lower the GI number, the less of a rise. But it’s still going to rise. If you have diabetes.

I’m beginning to understand why people with Type 1 are angry at the portrayal of diabetes and with being lumped in with Type 2s. I’m getting angry myself, and I’m Type 2.

The thing is, whenever diabetes is discussed, the images shown are of wide bottoms, thunder thighs, and beer bellies. I have what I would call a typical Type 2 shape: Big bazonkers, a round tummy, a flat bottom, and skinny legs.

Plus, if you look at the statistics, chances are the shots aren’t even of people with Type 2 diabetes.

Those of you who have been around me for a while know I don’t like to commit math. I’m not a math “person.” Nevertheless, I committed math. Just for you. I went to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) site and looked up stats on diabetes and on overweight and obesity.

The CDC does not make it easy. For diabetes, a publication from 2011 tells you that roughly 26 million people in the United States have diabetes and 79 million have prediabetes. It does not differentiate among types.

For overweight and obesity, the CDC gives you percentages. Broken down into age groups, into states, into whatever they can break it down into. Anything to avoid giving you straight national numbers.

I’m going to tell you how I did this so you can correct me if I flubbed:

• Took the population of the United States, which is about 308,745,538.

• Multiplied by 0.68% (the percentage of people 20 and older who are overweight or obese — 34% in each group — which was 209,946,966

• To which I added 12.5 million for the 2–19 years age group (it gave you a number for that age group in addition to the percentage). The total then was 222,446,966 people in the United States who are overweight or obese.

And I should tell you these were different years, albeit close together. The CDC and the US Census Bureau can’t seem to get their years together.

So. We have 308.7 million people in the United States, of which nearly 222 million are overweight or obese. But only 105 million have diabetes or prediabetes. What happened to the other 117 million people? The ones who are overweight or obese, but who do NOT have diabetes or prediabetes? What would that be? More than half of the people who are overweight or obese do not — and probably will not — have/get Type 2 diabetes?

How dare they be fat and not have diabetes! It goes against every message “they” are sending us! Get fat; get diabetes! Could it be that their beta cells are just fine, thank you very much? That the genetics for Type 2 diabetes just aren’t there? That they’ll never get Type 2 diabetes? (Actually, those numbers make me feel pretty good. It lessens the guilt that it’s “all my fault.”)

People just don’t understand this, and the media keeps perpetuating misinformation.

So I’ve begun my own little campaign. Feel free to join me. I make sure I have the e-mail address of whatever news or opinion programs I tend to have on. When there’s a diabetes story with inaccuracies or stereotypes, I whip out an e-mail, provide a correction or a complaint, and ask that they have somebody learn about diabetes so the interviewer can ask intelligent questions.

I am tired of being portrayed as having given Type 2 diabetes to myself because I am fat and lazy. I am NOT lazy.

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