It’s Not About The Unicorn Frappuccino

It’s about the misinformation and jokes about a serious disease that are allowed to be forgiven because they’re hidden behind some silly meme and a pepto-pink drink

It’s not about the unicorn frappuccino, a drink the marketing masterminds at Starbucks are riding all the way to the bank. There is no more sugar in that drink than there is any other frappuccino or even a regular soda. Personally, I’d rather spend my $5 and the calories on a real milkshake. Nope, it’s not about a damn drink.  It’s about the misinformation and jokes about a serious disease that are allowed to be forgiven because they’re hidden behind some silly meme and a pepto-pink drink. Honestly, the unicorn frap is just the latest overly sugary fad that people get to slap the word “diabetes” across and have a good old laugh on social media.

Sharing these memes and jokes perpetuates the myths that surround diabetes. I know what you are thinking “Ugh, one more type 1 mom on some personal mission, standing on her damn soapbox.” “Ugh, it’s obviously about type 2, not the bad kind where little kids take shots everyday to stay alive” Guess what? Yep, I am one more type 1 mom, stepping loudly up on my soapbox. And seriously?  Both of the types of diabetes are bad, as is any other medical condition that has serious consequences, although you don’t see people joking about those. Still neither type of diabetes is caused by eating too much sugar, even in type 2 complex genetics come into play.

The reason this really grinds my gears is personal. No one ever differentiates between the two types, all diabetes gets lumped together into one big ugly box. It’s why I cringe every time someone says Frankie is a “diabetic” At our house we always say “She has type 1” or will expand and say “she has type 1 diabetes”.  As an RN in the OB world, where I spent the first 14 years of my career, diabetes was always defined. Our patients were always type 1, type 2 insulin dependent, type 2 diet controlled, gestational insulin dependent, or gestational diet controlled.  They were defined because they are different. They are different diseases with different causes, treatments, and restrictions. Now stepping out of the OB realm, when I receive report on a patient, I always make the nurse on the other end of the phone tell me what type of diabetes the patient has.  I’m sure this request is met with an eyeroll, but I want it differentiated.  To me it’s important, it’s important on a nursing level and more importantly on a very personal level.  

I never want a nurse to give report on my kiddo and say “She’s diabetic”.  It’s not a label I want my kid to have.  It’s where we fail in healthcare, there is judgement and at times you can even hear disgust in a person’s voice when they say a patient is diabetic.  As if the patient brought a disease upon themselves. Which we know as professionals isn’t true; however, those little jokes that people post regularly do start to influence other’s minds and create biases.  I know that I won’t have to deal with judgement when Frankie is little, but as soon as she turns 18 and becomes an adult, it seems all bets are off.   

Over the past 6 months I have definitely become a better nurse when it comes to empathy for my patients with diabetes. I also understand the relief on my patient’s exhausted mother’s face when I said “oh, I totally understand her pump, I have a daughter with type 1 as well”. She was relieved because I get it, I understand the battle they fight on a daily basis, and I am not going to pass judgement at the one blood sugar I test before surgery.  A blood sugar that really tells us nothing about how someone is managing their diabetes.  But most importantly, she knew I know there is a dramatic difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

So, the reality is it’s much bigger than a stupid drink at Starbucks.  We were watching a TV show the other night and all of the characters laughed at a shirt with the tagline “I can’t eat that. I have diabetes.” Cringe-worthy, one more myth that was being shared on a nationwide platform.  My comment to Jason was “Well, just one more reason Powerless isn’t being renewed.”  When these jokes are shared on social media and TV shows it just perpetuates the myths and spreads misinformation about diabetes. It allows biases and judgments to build in people, because joking about “diabeetus” and “sugar comas” has somehow become commonplace and isn’t taboo in our society.  It’s what makes me worried for Frankie as she gets closer to school age. We all know kids can be cruel, and when society has given permission to share jokes about sugar causing diabetes, it gives the kids a free pass to laugh, to point, and make fun.  The kids will think that making fun of the little girl who has a disease because she ate too much sugar is ok; because the adults surrounding them laugh at this and share memes on social media.  This is a battle that my 3 year old is going to be fighting her entire life, which totally fucking sucks. But, you can bet, I will be standing there on my soapbox right next to her, with my gesticulating and my loud Italian voice, fighting to spread valid information and encouraging people to just be better human beings. 

For the record; this is what Diabetes in a (martini) glass looks like at our house.

Side note:  Here’s the real deal, I’m not innocent and I’m not some big old stick in the mud.  I have a horribly dark and jaded sense of humor.  I laugh at inappropriate things and share inappropriate jokes in the right company.  I have to have this sense of humor, or I wouldn’t be able to survive this beautiful life I’ve been given.

Be Careful What You Ask For…

I know I should be careful what I ask for, when you make a deal with the devil — all bets are off

It’s April, which means spring flowers, beautiful weather and baseball.  More importantly, Cubbies baseball…

Last year, sometime during the season, I may have made the comment “I’d sell my soul if it means the Cubs will win the World Series.”* As a true fan, I’m not naive enough to think that I am the only fan, living or dead, who ever uttered that phrase.  That said, I’m a realist, I know that bargaining with the devil, however risky that may be, did not cause my daughter’s pancreas to break, but sometimes it’s fun to pick one of one million insane theories and run with it.

There are a lot of things that I didn’t expect to happen in the off season. A lot of change, both good and bad. Honestly, I feel like I’ve changed significantly since Frankie’s diagnosis and that’s okay.  Changes happen all of the time, we evolve, it’s the beauty of all living species.  

I’ve become more guarded of my family and my inner circle.  I’ve also become more open to strangers who are going through the same struggles everyday.  My circle of friends has become a bit smaller.  It’s okay that some felt the need to take a step back, something like this can be overwhelming especially in the beginning when it was completely taking over our lives. If you pulled away, I understand.

However; the outpouring of support from the type 1 community has been huge.  There is an online  parents group I’m in, one of their sayings is “find your tribe and love them hard”.  This could not be any truer than every person I’ve met in the type 1 community. (I know there are bad eggs out there, I’ve just been lucky in my interactions)  There was the stranger who was willing to meet and share her stories over a cup of coffee just because she knew how hard this initial part would be.   The co-worker from the opposite shift who has become a fast friend, bonding over mimosas and our reality.  These are the strong females who are sending agonizing texts at odd hours when the glucose gods don’t want to cooperate or just to check in because it seems like you’ve had a rough week. These women who are fighting the same battle have helped me more than they’ll ever know.

The biggest change is that I’ve lost my me time in all of this.  It’s the change that has impacted me the most.  Now that things are a little more settled,  I’m going to focus on a little self-care. Getting back into the gym, eating better, and just taking time to breathe. Self-care is also going to include date nights with my husband and girl’s weekends again. Nurture my amazing relationships old and new.  Focus on the things that make me feel whole and positive, and make me remember that being a pancreas is just one facet of my shining personality.  

I’m going to take a line from one of my favorite baseball songs, because of tradition not for it’s excellent musical appeal, “Go Cubs Go!”.  This is going to be my new motto as we head into a new season.  “Baseball season’s underway  Well you better get ready for a brand new day”  The reality is, this disease isn’t the worst possible thing that could happen, it just felt that way during the initial phase.  My brand new day is going to be full of a brand new attitude.  A more optimistic me.



*Those of you who know me in real life, know I’m just being facetious.  If I had any control over the outcome of sporting events, I would have bet everything pre-season and walked away with an assload of money.