Last week, I published a rant about the EpiPen ad that was dangerous for food allergy families and misleading to the public about the true dangers of food allergies. The ad was real, and my remarks about EpiPens were 100% truthful.
I like to add some impact to my rants and stories by using comparative analogies. For instance, I said that the EpiPen isn’t like putting aloe on a sunburn because you forgot to wear sunscreen and stayed out in the sun too long. I was right about that. While a sunburn can be really bad, a food allergic reaction can be 2000 times worse and cause immediate death in some circumstances.
What I didn’t know, however, was that I made a comparison between EpiPens and Insulin that were horribly misinformed and insulting to an entire community of people who live with diabetes on a daily basis.
Limited Knowledge Breeds Ignorance
I admit, I have not known many people who live with any form of diabetes, but those I have known have been on restricted diets. When they went off of their diets, they would have to take extra insulin in order to maintain their blood sugar levels.
What I didn’t know is that there is actually nothing wrong with this. So long as a diabetic takes the appropriate precautions, they can eat whatever they wish to eat. As long as they are prepared to take in more insulin for that special treat, it’s not a big deal at all. Just like when we gorge ourselves on sugary snacks, our own pancreas secretes extra insulin to manage it.
A diabetic’s pancreas doesn’t secrete insulin (or enough insulin, depending on the circumstances) to regulate blood sugar. So they must use an injected form of insulin to maintain their blood sugar levels. It’s not just when they have sugary treats either. It’s whenever they eat; it’s carbohydrates that cause the problem.
So when I said that relying on an EpiPen to save your life so you can eat a piece of cake that might have something you’re allergic to in it is like a diabetic eating a candy bar because they can just take insulin after, I was dead wrong. To top if off, I used the word “stupid.” Yeah…not one of my finer moments.
My intention was not to insult anyone. I actually believed something about diabetes to be true, when in fact, it was far from the truth. From the reaction I received, it turns out that I’m far from being the only one with this mistaken understanding about diabetes. It’s a common misconception that diabetics can’t eat sweets. I was told by one angry parent that I was perpetuating a stereotype. I had no idea I was doing this.
Even if you think you know what you’re talking about, double check your facts before clicking “publish.” Sometimes, we are raised with information that we believe to be true. We saw it on TV once. We heard about it in passing. We knew one person dealing with this condition and heard our parents talking about it. We assume the information we heard was the truth. If you carry that information around with your long enough, you think you’re a big know-it-all.
You’re probably wrong. Unless you read up yourself, you’re probably wrong and need to keep your mouth shut. Period.
Lesson two: Don’t blog angry. Oops. Yeah, that was part of the problem. I watched the EpiPen video and saw RED. I used my blog to get the message out there in my snarky, angry-chick way that I like to use, and instead of walking away to breathe and then re-read the article before publishing, I just published it and walked away…for over 24 hours.
In My Own Defense
There were a lot of comments left on my blog during that time that I was unaware of. While I’d done a little social media, I didn’t spend much time on the computer and never once logged into my blog. Once I did, almost 48 hours or so later, I found a slew of comments and a blog post on another site, attacking me. They weren’t just mad about what I’d said. They were mad because they thought I was ignoring them. I didn’t respond to their comments. I didn’t even approve them. All they got from me during that time was silence.
Because I had no idea what was going on. I’m one person, and the only person who really works on this blog. I have some help from time to time, but really, it’s just me. I am a mother, and I do have a life and a job outside of this blog. So when I don’t get to comments right away or respond to emails, it’s not because I am ignoring anyone; it’s because I have other things to do.
But again, I understand that everyone was seriously ticked off and wanted something done. As soon as I knew what was happening, I immediately took action. I apologized, retracted what I’d said, and contacting as many people as I could to offer personal apologies. It wasn’t my intention to anger anyone. I was just honestly ignorant of what I was talking about.
Secondly, a blogger accused me of making fun of “kids living with diabetes.” This was a misrepresentation of what was truly in my blog post. I actually never mentioned children when I discussed diabetes.
Additionally, this same blogger attacked my credibility:
“I’d give you her name but – surprise – she does not give it on her blog. That’s standing by what you write, right?”
Now, I understand that when you’re angry about something, and rightfully so, that you will do whatever you can to take down the individual responsible for the thing that made you angry…especially if you feel they deserve it. Attacking someone’s credibility is a common occurrence in the media world. You see it on the news, in the papers, on blogs, and in political debates. Every single flaw makes you less credible.
However, I wish to address the fact that I do not reveal my identity on my web site and why it is that I choose to handle my blog in this way.
I do stand behind what I write. My decision to not attach my name and face to my blog has nothing to do with me not standing behind what I write. In fact, I often consider putting my name and face on this blog in order to be more personable with my readers and to receive credit for the hard work and accomplishments my blog has made.
However, as I discuss very personal health problems that I suffer with on a daily basis, including depression and anxiety, I have chosen not to reveal my identity to protect my privacy. I have no desire to be the spokesperson for people with my numerous illnesses. I don’t want anyone to see me on the street and shout, “Hey, you’re the Always Sick Chick!” I also don’t want the stigma that surrounds depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses to follow me around like a black cloud. So I keep myself hidden behind my pseudonym (a common practice for many writers) to protect my privacy and my family.
I consider, from time to time, dropping that barrier and putting myself out there more. But I’m not ready to do that. It’s my choice.
More Educated, More Patience, Less Hypocrisy
I’ve received more education about diabetes from this experience. That will be beneficial to me. While I would never say anything to anyone about what they feed their own children, I will probably judge less if I see someone with diabetes in a McDonalds having lunch. I’ve never said anything, but I feel bad about the things that I have thought when witnessing such occurrences.
While I am mostly understanding of people who don’t understand anything about food allergies, I am more aware of my reaction to people who bring peanut butter to the playground and let their kids roam around. This is a major pet peeve of mine. And I always initially think to myself, “OMG! Are you serious?! That is going to kill my kid. Who lets their kid run around the park with food anyway?” I never behave this way toward anything, however. I simply mention the allergy to the parent, calmly and in an educational manner. “Hi, would you mind having your child move away from the playground equipment with that peanut butter sandwich. My son is very allergic and if he gets it on him, he could get ill.”
Usually, that brings a decent response. They apologize, and I tell them there’s no need and thank you for complying with my wishes.
Sometimes, I get a real jerk who decides he/she would rather put my child in danger instead of help a mother out. I do feel incredibly angry in those situations…like I could beat the crap out of someone. But most people are very friendly and understanding and don’t want their kid’s snack to put my kid in the hospital. What frustrates me is when I explain it and they continue to not understand and put my child at risk. Or those who just choose to not believe that food allergies are as dangerous as we’ve told them. “It’s just yogurt!” Yeah, that yogurt can kill my child. I just told you that. What part of this don’t you understand?
So, I get it. I understand the stress that these mothers face, the misconceptions of the special needs their children have, etc… And as many have said, we all need to stick together.
I’m happy to say that I’ve made some new blogger friends during this whole thing and appreciate their understanding once I responded and apologized. I also don’t blame them for their anger and hostility. When it comes to my kids and their health, I turn into a real beast. It’s a mother’s instinct to do so. So, we’re all amazing moms advocating for our children.
Love to all the Diabetes Families out there from The Always Sick Chick.
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