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Defining Diabetes (with Sotomayor)


27 May 2009

Defining Diabetes (with Sotomayor)

People are worried about Mrs. Sotomayor's diabetes because no one understands diabetes.There I've said it....finally.

I may not live in NYC anymore, but I did for awhile even though I have been in exile for many years in Europe, now Asia.  I worked in Manhattan, was married there and my only daughter was born there, so I feel I have a few rights when it comes to making comments about our newly nominated Supreme Court Judge and Nuyorican, Sonia Sotomayor.  She has Type 1 diabetes, you know (say it with a whisper).

What an interesting time for Advocacy Groups whose main focus is to facilitate awareness, information and education about diabetes and patients (with diabetes).  I guess Sotomayor had no choice but to consent to the (Judicial) Investigative team to contact her doctor and other experts.  Right?  And we all know diabetes can make you ornery and fractious, so giving her behaviorial clearance made some sense too.  Didn't it? 

I found all this information in this morning's New York Times, near the bottom of the full page headline story for Sotomayor.  I get so excited when the New York Times discusses diabetes on the front page or on the 30th for that matter.  It happens so rarely that I often wonder if anyone is really working their day job in PR for the national and international diabetes organizations.  

To dispense with any health concerns about Judge Sotomayor, officials said the White House contacted her doctor and independent experts to determine whether diabetes, which she learned she had at 8 years old, might be problematic and concluded it would not. The Obama team also interviewed colleagues on the Second Circuit to check out reports that she was difficult to get along with, and was reassured it was not true.
Diabetes may be the least interesting aspect of this formidable woman.  She was born to Puerto Rican Working Class immigrants who settled in the East Bronx, she attended Princeton and was by all accounts, socially isolated by her peers, but pulled through and went on to Yale Law in the early 1970's.  She wrote her way onto the Law Review with her deep analysis and social concern for the poor, especially Puerto Ricans and American minorities.  Professionally she is an "imposing prosecutor" and a "legal dynamo" who has several notable cases under her belt addressing civil and religious liberties.  Read the times article for more....

But I am interested in how diabetes advocates and highly regarded media forums are DEFINING what's at issue at all with this latest tassle...

Time Magazine hasn't a clue what diabetes is, so goes cute and slightly, off color, here: HER DIABETES, Will it be a Handicap?
Handicap is defined by Merriam-Webster's as 
 a disadvantage that makes achievement unusually difficult bsometimes offensive : a physical disability

The New York Times uses the term illness one day and then
"health concern" to describe Sotomayor's eligibility problem but nothing else, steering clear of any precise terms or language, except for the magic word (diabetes).

JDRF does by far the best, at least they are calling it something people can sink their teeth autoimmune disease.

The American Diabetes Association is having some trouble overusing the term...

"In the days leading up to this nomination, there were several media reports suggesting that Judge Sotomayor should not be considered for this position simply because
she has type 1 diabetes," said R. Paul Robertson, MD, President, Medicine & Science, American Diabetes Association. "The advancements in the management of type 1 diabetes have been just amazing over the last two decades and the ability of people to manage their diabetes successfully has been proven. People with diabetes can function and live a long and healthy life."

Huh, what?  If the media is looking for information, where are they going? Help! And we wonder why so many people are confused and uninformed. I'll say it again...people are worried about Mrs. Sotomayor because no one understands diabetes.


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