Monday, February 15, 2010

My thoughts on Oprah’s show on diabetes: Part 2

Last week’s blog entry was on Oprah’s show on diabetes. Many in the Type 1 diabetic community were angered, hurt, and/or upset by the show, including me, and I left you last week saying that I would use the show as a lesson in awakening.

“Hopefully, it will leave us all inspired.”

Just to recap: There were two main points that upset me and my fellow Type 1’s.

1) Dr. Oz presented inaccuracies regarding diabetes. First, Dr. Oz claims that Type 1 diabetes is a genetic disease, but although I am not a doctor or medical researcher, many of us in the diabetic community know that this is not necessarily the case. There are plenty of Type 1's out there who do not have any Type 1 diabetes in their family history. He also stated that Type 2 is a product of lifestyle, which again is not always the case. Lifestyle is an important component of both types of diabetes, but it may or may not be the whole cause for Type 2. There are many Type 2's out there that live a healthy lifestyle, but triggered the disease through genetics.

Dr. Oz also claimed that we Type 1 diabetics don’t make “enough” insulin, but actually, the key is that we don’t make any insulin. Then, he claimed that 90% of diabetes is reversible through lifestyle, but did not point out that this is only the case with Type 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes can be managed through lifestyle, but this disease is not reversible. And as Kelly Kunik states in Dear Oprah & Dr. Oz- The Diabetes Show- Major FAIL, these statements only perpetuate the stereotypes that diabetics are the makers of their own fate. Thank you, Kelly, for pointing that out!!!

2) Drama with inappropriate follow-through – the part that bothered me the most. As I wrote last week, “Dr. Oz visited a 44-year old woman in the hospital with Type 1 who had had both of her legs amputated and was undergoing kidney dialysis. It was painful to watch.”

Dr. Oz prodded the woman to share her feelings, and I believe that we were all in tears and/or fearful that it might happen to us. Yes, this is a wake-up call, and a much-needed one. “But then, after watching this woman with Type 1 diabetes crying with two legs gone, we the audience were informed that the show would actually focus on Type 2 diabetes. Why? Good news, 90% of the diabetic cases can be prevented. I felt slighted.”

What about us, the Type 1 diabetics? As Kelly Kunik also stated, why didn’t they show a Type 1 who is living a healthy, vivacious lifestyle as a result of self-care and proper management after showing the woman with amputated legs? How about Halle Barry, Nick Jonas, or the Type 1 diabetes cycling team?

And herein lies the reason for writing The Conscious Diabetic. I must use this show, this statement of fear and anxiety, for awakening.

The first step I took was to really diagnose what was bothering me about the show. Forget about the responsibilities that Oprah and Dr. Oz have as conveyers of the Live Your Best Life message. What really, really, really bothered me about the show irrelevant of what they should or should not have done?

For me, that was the case of the woman with amputated legs. They left us hanging, and didn’t make us feel better about the severity of complications involved with mistreated Type 1 diabetes.

It’s actually quite simple: Watching the woman with amputated legs undergoing dialysis reminded me of my own vulnerability, my own likelihood of winding up the same way. I don’t want to think of myself as potentially hooked up to a machine without my legs. Who does? But it is an underlying fear of diabetes. There is no way around it. That fear is there, festering quietly, and we typically choose not to discuss or think about it. By bringing it to the forefront, we can use it as an opportunity to listen to our bodies, our authentic voice, and through awareness, we can accept that the fear is there and take inspired action.

The problem is that when I saw the show, I started to think about all of the times I have eaten the wrong thing, and wound up with high sugars, then low, then high again. And I ate those things knowing very well what the consequences may be. I beat myself up for not taking care of myself, and forget to applaud the times that I have taken care of myself.

So yes, the show is a huge wake up call, and a scary wake up call. Maybe that’s not only what I needed, but maybe all of us needed it, even the non-diabetics? The mistakes that Dr. Oz and Oprah made only drew greater attention to the problem. It forced me to look at it more closely, as does this blog.

So what to do with this fear now that it’s out there in the open? There’s only one thing to do: Face it. I accept that the fear is there, and I choose to take inspired action. So, I am setting an intention here today. And I will do my best to act on it – every moment of every day.

FYI, Deepak Chopra talks about the Law of Intention in the Seven Spiritual Laws of Success. I highly recommend this book. So, with the guidance of our friend Deepak, I set my intention for managing my self-care, and you know what? My intention is to live a long, healthy, balanced, and fulfilling life.

What is one step I can take to do that? As it pertains to me, it means eating a healthy diet all of the time, not just most of the time. How can this be an inspired action? Take a breath before each bite, be thankful for the food I eat, and be present while eating.

I don’t know if I may wind up with foot ulcers and the need for amputations, and I don’t know if I’ll wind up still doing yoga and going for walks at age 85. I hope for the latter. I don’t know if I will wind up with kidney problems, but I actually reversed some kidney damage diagnosed when I was 21 through proper diet and exercise. The past is already behind all of us, and we can't change it.

So, the only thing that I can focus on is right now. And so I ask myself: Is there anything wrong at this very exact moment in time? Nope, everything is just fine. Actually, it’s great.


  1. Great post! Thanks so much for referencing my blog & very much looking forward to reading more of your posts and getting to know you as a person and a PWD!
    Kelly Kunik

  2. Kelly,
    Thanks for telling it like it is on your blog! I look forward to getting to know you as well!
    Ophir Busel

  3. Diabetic retinopathy could be associated with poorer memory and diminished brain power in people with Type 2 diabetes, according to a new research.