My open letter to the BBC and Eastenders.
My son turns twelve in July this year, and two weeks after that will be the anniversary of his Type 1 Diabetes diagnosis. That will be seven years since he almost died from the onset of Type 1 Diabetes.
Seven years of a minimum of four injections a day, seven years of multiple finger prick blood tests, seven years of having to weigh his food to calculate how much insulin to give him, seven years of sleepless nights, hypos (low blood glucose), hypers, hospital stays from simple childhood illnesses that his body can’t always cope with.
Seven years of people’s ignorance.
Understandably the average person doesn’t know much about Type 1 Diabetes, they don’t live it like we do and I can accept that. If I see something incorrectly written online on social media about diabetes, I gently correct people to try and make people more aware of the truth behind diabetes.
I don’t rant at them, and mostly things said by a random person who has no idea of what an affect Type 1 Diabetes (or any other type of diabetes) has on a person’s life doesn’t affect me. I accept that I can’t educate the world about Type 1 Truths although through this blog and online I do try in my way.
What I can not accept, is that the BBC feel it’s okay to make jokes about diabetes. Twice in recent months characters on Eastenders have made jokes or incorrect casual references to diabetes.
Eastenders is one of my guilty pleasures, I’ve watched it since I was a child but I feel very let down by you right now. Kim’s comment on there last night which was along the lines of ‘It’s not a kid’s party if they don’t go home with Diabetes’ was not acceptable. True it may fit with the character, but you wouldn’t make jokes about other health conditions or disability on there.
I don’t find it acceptable for such a high profile channel to make a joke out of a health issue that people die from, that people have to live their whole lives with.
Type 1 Diabetes is not caused by eating sweets, chocolate or anything else lifestyle related. Small toddlers who have never even tasted sweets are diagnosed with it. There is nothing that myself or my son could have done to stop him developing Type 1 Diabetes. Also Type 2 diabetes is not always caused by lifestyle.
You are tarring so many by the same brush undeservedly, but also even if the people out there whose Type 2 Diabetes was caused by lifestyle didn’t look after themselves….. do they really deserve to be mocked? NO ONE wants diabetes of any type.
It isn’t just you who make the mistake of not differentiating between the types of diabetes, or of thinking it is okay to joke about, the media are guilty of this too and other television channels. That doesn’t make it okay though, it really doesn’t.
This week my son has had a sickness bug… a simple childhood illness that for most means a snuggly sofa day and a sick bowl. For us it meant testing his blood levels constantly, testing for ketones which can be life threatening to people with Type 1 Diabetes. He had low blood glucose whilst still vomiting, this meant we spent hours battling to get him to a safe level.
We very nearly had to go to the hospital, this has happened with some past sickness bugs. Going into hospital involves having a cannula in his hand and a drip to help his blood glucose levels… he knows this, so whilst I was battling his levels, he was begging me not to take him to the hospital.
This is just an insight into what it is like to live with Type 1 Diabetes, yes I am sure many will say he could have ‘worse’ things, but that does not mean it is okay to joke about it. By making joky references to diabetes on screen, you are opening children up to bullying and spreading more ignorance.
Please I beg you, stop with the diabetes references in a negative joking way. My son is not a joke.
Stevie (Miss Stephanie Couch)