Diabetes In The News… Again

So, a very strange thing happened to me today…

Many of you probably saw diabetes hit the news today, and the reports I saw telling the story this morning irked me in the usual way in that there was NO differentiation between type 1 and type 2 diabetes. I also saw some reports link diabetes to consumption of fats, when most of us have an inkling that this is in fact merely the scapegoat for carbohydrates. Yawn, the same old misconceptions! Frustrating.

So fast forward to mid-morning and I’m plodding along at work and I get a call from a Hull number. I left Hull a while ago now, but it was an old friend who has moved from the radio station I used to work on to the region’s BBC equivalent, BBC Radio Humberside. He wanted me to talk on the subject, LIVE, on the radio. Sorry what?

Now I’ve long been on my high horse about the misconceptions of our fair disease, and my aim one day in the very distant future, once I’ve earned my stripes in the TV world, is to present and produce a series of documentaries about being young and living with diabetes, channelling someone like Dawn Porter, who’s done a particularly heartfelt documentary on breast cancer among others, or Cherry Healey, who covers many women’s lifestyle issues. Women’s health is my absolute favourite topic to investigate, and I love that these two do it with balls, as well as a sense of fun. You gotta love the balls. There’s only been a handful of documentaries exploring diabetes and most of them have done little but confuse matters. I want to do it and do it right. But before then I know I need to do a loooottttt of journalistic research to give me any credibility to talk on the subject to the masses. Yet suddenly, without any warning, this is what I was being asked to do.

But weighing it up, what a great opportunity to quell some of the wayward information out there and once I’d learned that a rep from Diabetes UK was joining the party I felt the pressure lift a bit and thought I’d give it a go.

The presenter of this particular show is very well known in East Yorkshire and Lincolnshire for stirring up a few fireworks and pressing a few buttons. He fronts the local 6pm flagship news programme as well as the radio show, and he certainly likes to push his interviewees. This subject isn’t massively contentious, but as a journalist I admit I quite fancied the idea of giving him a run for his money. Not the greatest motivation I admit, but tasty on a personal level all the same. Guilty.

Just as I was waiting to go on air it suddenly struck me that I was in a hugely responsible position here, as a voice of type 1s all over the place, speaking about diabetes to a lot of people. That may come across in a delusions of grandeur kind of comment (it’s only local radio after all – I can say that because I worked in it) but who am I to talk about something so serious and important on any level – to two people, 200 people or 2 million people? WHAT AM I DOING!?! I was half inclined to just hang up there and then, due to my natural tendency to put my foot in it. A mixture of fear and not wanting to let my mate down (who no doubt would feel the wrath of Peter Levy if I bailed) kept me glued me the phone.

It was all over in a flash, although I got thrown straight into the deep end – I’m pretty sure he wanted me to walk into the conversation by saying that all type 2’s are lazy and deserve what they get. Sneaky so-and-so, but hopefully I dodged that bullet quite well. There are a couple of things I wish I’d said better, but what can you do. I’ve listened again and apart from putting on a bit of a Hyancinth Bouquet-esque phone voice (well, until I come out with “pain in the bum”. Nice) I *think* it was ok. Feel free to tell me otherwise…

From my days as a serious journalist…


7 comments on “Diabetes In The News… Again

  1. Thanks for spreading the word Jen 🙂 Have to say though, although Libby and you both said it, there is still a very high emphasis on T2 being ‘self-inflicted’ – hundreds of thousands of people get T2 despite leading very healthy lifestyles, and there is a theory that it is glucose intolerance that leads to weight gain and eventual diagnosis with T2. Also, I do get slightly annoyed that T1 is always considered a childhood disease – I was 49 when diagnosed and know many, many people diagnosed at a similar age – often misdiagnosed as T2 purely because they are over 21!

    Keep up the good work – I would LOVE you to achieve your ambition of the documentaries investigating diabetes – something we’ve often debated on the forum at http://www/diabetessupport.co.uk given the terrible misrepresentations in the media every time the subject is portrayed. My particular favourite was the T1 on Casualty who would only use special Cornish insulin!

  2. Hi Alan,
    Thanks so much for reading/listening and commenting! I completely agree, I did say before I went on that I definitely didn’t have the authority to talk about type 2, I really don’t know enough about it, but I guess that’s what he wanted to talk about. I will definitely check out the forums more thoroughly, and am with you on the ridiculous portrayal of diabetes on tv! That’s why I want to do it so much; it’s crying out for some exposure. Thanks again for reading x

  3. PS your blog is really entertaining!

  4. Well done for getting the differences across Jen, and giving listeners a little glimpse into life with D which might surprise the ‘Oh I just thought you couldn’t eat sweets’ brigade.

    Hardly surprising that those whose metabolisms are breaking down and heading them into T2 risk think it will never happen to them… after all around 60% of people count as being overweight/obese in the UK, but only 10% of them are Dx with T2. And a significant proportion of T2s are normal weight or under weight at diagnosis!

    Very easy for people in that 60% to cast the blame and think it’s ‘someone else’s self-inflicted problem’ when if their own genetic/ethnic predisposition was just a little different they too would be living the ‘T2’ lifestyle. Pointing the finger and creating a ‘them and us’ culture is completely unhelpful.

  5. These are really interesting stats that are NEVER written about when we hear all the warnings. Also, I’m wondering if the dramatic increase in cases is down to more testing by GPs? Don’t many people live with T2 for years undetected? So increased testing would likely uncover them, hence such a massive increase? (Just a thought – I really don’t have enough knowledge of T2).

  6. Is a more permanent link available? Don’t worry if not….only wanted to hear the Hyancinth Bucket impression 😉

    This lack of discernibility between Type 1 and 2 in the media gets my goat quite a bit. Thankfully i’ve also got a chance to do something about it, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation are lobbying Parliament in April next year for more funds into Type 1 research but also to push the fact that there is a difference between 1 and 2. I applied to be one of their 60 representatives and have been selected. We have to go down a day early for media training AHHHH!!!! Maybe you will be running that session? 😉

    Would love to see you presenting a doc. about Type 1 – looking forward to the day.

  7. I WISH I’d seen the JDRF thing. GUTTED I missed out – a few people I follow on Twitter have been chosen too. But at least something’s being done; I think it’s really awesome that we’re going to get the chance to speak as such a united voice.
    Thanks for reminding me about the link – I’ve reminded my friend he was going to send it to me, so hopefully it won’t be long before you can chuckle at my Bucket voice! (Not as bad as my newsreader voice though…)

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