A Diabetic Talks : Why Awareness Matters

Growing up, I went 17 years not having a clue what type 1 diabetes is. I didn’t know how it affected people, why it mattered and simply never felt the need to care. In 10th grade biology, we had a chapter about diabetes and the critical role of the pancreas and what insulin and blood sugar all meant. I decided to be the classic high school guy that pretended to listen as it went in one ear and out the other as I counted down the minutes for the dreadfully long class period to be over. 

I was ignorant and felt it didn’t matter to me. I didn’t have this weird disease nor did I ever think I would have any reason to be knowledgeable about it. 

Then about a year and a half later, I lost 30 pounds as my body ate away at all the fat I had in my already skinny build. It then started to affect my muscles and deteriorated my body until I was hospitalized. I was then told I have type 1 diabetes. 

An educator came into the room and asked me what I knew about this disease. I tried thinking back to biology class, but I had nothing. 

I regretted dismissing the knowledge they tried teaching me. I regretted the fact that I didn’t bat an eye at this disease until it affected me. I felt dumb, arrogant and realized the importance of listening even if something does not affect you directly. 

I believe this disease needs more light shed on it. I feel it is such an invisible disease to the public eye and that is not right. I understand they teach you the bare minimum in class and that students should listen but often, they do not. 

This is a disease that could be fatal on any random day and if the people around you are not aware of how to help, it could end very badly. The harm your body can go through if undiagnosed can be very threatening and parents and loved ones should always be aware of how to tell if their kid needs the medical attention that it takes. 

On the other hand, it affects people in other ways. Diabetes costs are absurdly expensive. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, one of every four dollars in US health care costs are spent on caring for diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association, type one diabetics spend $16,752 dollars a year on medical expenditures. That is over double the average for nondiabetics. 

If there was more awareness, a lot could change. People like myself may be more knowledgeable when they are diagnosed and have a better understanding of how their life will be altered forever. People would also know how to help others in need when they need it and there may be more of an outcry for the government to help the ones that are spending so much of their hard earned money to simply survive. 

Although I spent this column talking about just type one diabetes, this message applies to everything and everyone. For me, I had to have a rude awakening to realize everyone’s problems matter. 

I didn’t have that understanding when I was a young immature kid in biology class. I was more worried about class ending than being worried about what so many people go through on a daily basis. It is so important that people listen, understand and educate themselves about what others go through daily. 

Everyone has their own issues and problems they face and I feel so many people don’t understand that. Awareness is such an important thing for everyone and I have made it a priority and goal of mine ever since my diagnosis to just pay attention. 

Something as little as listening can go a long way. 

Ask people how they are doing, understand other cultures other than your own, if someone needs help, just simply help and always keep an open mind towards everyone.

Write to Luke Jackson at

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.