More Than Numbers

Yesterday my son and I went to a College Fair. It was quite an event – more than 250 colleges in attendance and some interesting seminars. It was our first venture into the college search phase of life.

We attended a seminar at which a recruiter from Duke University said the following (regarding what they look for when considering applicants): You are not just a set of numbers; you are a whole person.

Boy, that sounded familiar…Oh yea! We say that about people with diabetes. We are not just numbers; we are people. In fact, this came up at a recent #DSMA live event at #AADE16 in San Diego. We were having a lively discussion about diabetes, language, social media and more, and one participant noted that we are not our A1C. Interestingly enough, someone tweeted in that yes, we are, in fact, our A1Cs, are we not?

I admit I was pretty shocked, yet in retrospect I can see why someone might think that. A1Cs are certainly part of us – they represent the glucose attached to our blood cells, after all. But I think the more important message is that our A1Cs don’t define us. Numbers don’t determine our worth or our success in life. Some people maintain an A1C in the 5s, while others work incredibly hard at managing diabetes and have an A1C above 7%.

Sometimes I get a little frustrated when I see/hear others parts of the universe “getting it” and not those who are in diabetes. Why would a college recruiter understand that people are more than numbers before diabetes professionals, or even people living with diabetes? Why have people working in other diseases, conditions, or situations figured out that it’s not ok to stigmatize and stereotype people, yet not in diabetes?

It’s time to take a closer look. It’s time to validate people with diabetes and the work they do every day. It’s time to acknowledge the emotional side of diabetes so things like not calling us numbers (or names, for that matter) mean something. It’s time.

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