MTV Moon Man - CC License - Photo by Deidre Woollard

MTV True Life: I Have Diabetes…and Support

So I’m a day late, but I watched the MTV True Life: I Have Diabetes episode last night, and I have a confession… I didn’t hate it.

The first thing some folks may want to jump on is that MTV didn’t get all the facts about diabetes exactly right. Well, that is true, but they were at least playing the correct sport in the correct ballpark, so to speak. I’m starting to think that the only way to get all of the facts right about diabetes is to simply not talk about it at all. I’ve had diabetes for more than three decades, and I don’t always get all the facts right either. So there. Overall, I think MTV did a good job, and presented a group of people and a subject that folks can actually care about (as opposed to “True Life: I Scratch Myself in Inappropriate Places in Public” or “True Life: I Toot Glitter and Crap Rainbows”).

Actually, I might would watch that last example. But anyway, moving on…

I could identify the most with Kristyn, a young girl in her mid-twenties with Type 1 diabetes who is faced with the realization of the abominably high costs of living as an adult with diabetes. Pumps, pump supplies, insulin, strips, pens, pills, and any other medications that we may have to take adds up to a lot, even with insurance. Without it, it’s kind of mind blowing how much this stupid disease can cost. I can relate because right now I’m starting the research of switching insurance companies just because my own costs are slowly but surely creeping into the danger zone. Diabetes already cost me my pancreas, so I’m not really interested in it costing me an arm and a leg to go with it. (See what I did there?)

I’m really proud of Kristyn, because she’s taking control and sacrificing her independence as an adult to get control of not only her diabetes, but also the cost of living with diabetes. That is a really, really hard thing to do, and it’s admirable that she’s not accepting failure as an option, even when it seems like an uphill battle. Although her mom came across as a bit overbearing on the show, support is incredibly important for all of us, whether we have diabetes or not, and I’m glad Kristyn has that.

Yesterday, Kristyn somehow found Kim’s post about the episode, and now she is connected to several members of the Diabetes Online Community (DOC) via Twitter. I predict that it won’t be long before she is connected to more people with diabetes (PWD’s) both online and in real life, and is playing an even bigger role in our diabetes world. You read it here first.

Matt was someone else that I was a bit fascinated with. Matt is a college student, was portrayed as a party animal and heavy drinker, and also has Type 1 diabetes. Although I think Matt would do well with more support for living a high quality, action packed, totally excellent life as both a person and a person with diabetes, I wonder if he is ready. I can’t speak for everyone, but for me it was easy to catch myself judging Matt as a college kid that just doesn’t care about his life with diabetes as much as he cares about being the life of the party. I know that I like to do extreme things and have adventures, but I also enjoy feeling like I’m in control of my diabetes while I do them, and not having to choose between the two options. In my world, the two go together like peanut butter and jelly. But that’s MY world. That is what works for ME. Your diabetes, and Matt’s diabetes, may and probably does vary. There is not right or wrong…there simply is.

I would really hate for Matt to feel like he is viewed as anything less than what appeared to be a nice guy, just because he was portrayed as enjoying an alcohol-heavy college lifestyle on MTV. When the time comes that he is ready for changes that work for HIS diabetes and HIS world, or even if he just wants to reach out and say hello diabetes world, then I will be one of the first people in line to welcome and support him and celebrate life right along with him. (Matt, if you get to read this, just say when buddy.)

I really didn’t have a lot that I could relate to with Jen, as her diabetes was discovered while she was pregnant with her son. I can’t imagine how hard it is to transition from a life of taking care of yourself to a life of taking care of you AND a child. Add in having to learn how to also take care of Type 1 diabetes, and that sounds like a lot to deal with. But I know without a doubt that it is possible, and there are an army of D-Moms and PWD Moms and even just us old standard PWD’s who are out there in the world and eager to help.

If this episode of True Life did nothing else, it reminded me that any one of these struggles with diabetes could be my struggle with diabetes. I am so thankful for the people that I have met that have helped me to realize that diabetes is a big priority in my world, and I hope to show them the same compassion and understanding that they have shown me. Diabetes is hard, and it’s no joke sometimes. Having a group of amazing people to joke about it with, however, makes all the difference in the world.

MTV Moon Man - CC License - Photo by Deidre Woollard

CC License - Photo by Deidre Woollard

8 comments

  1. Right on! Your feeling and mine re: “the episode” were spot on. I’m looking forward to writing more, and exploring more, and hopefully being a better sounding board for people who, when they are ready, reach out to the DOC.

  2. Great post. Good perspective. I like how open-minded you were. I haven’t seen the episode yet but can’t wait to view it. Followed Kristyn on twitter and noticed the number of followers. I will also watch to see as that number increases rapidly, as you predicted.
    Thanks!

  3. Outstanding post. Loved the way you described that: “playing the right sport, in the right ballpark.” Perfect. I came across in the end with the same take-away, that I wasn’t disappointed and it was better than I’d expected. And I completely felt myself relating to all three in some way, Matt more than the others. I’ve been there and felt that myself, and had those same trains of thought when I was his age in those early college years. The way you analyzed and offered advice to Matt here is, simply, pretty spectacular and well-done. I’m giving you virtual applause right now. And don’t worry, I’ll remember where I read it first (see also: here).

  4. hey man, nice post. i watched it with my 12 y.o. type 1 kid, and hearing her opinions about what she saw was pretty valuable, so for that i am glad mtv decided to spend some time on the subject.

  5. I was fascinated with Matt’s story, not only because I’m 21, type 1 diabetic, gay, but also because I feel like diabetes often gets in the way of being normal. I’ve been to the hospital three times in the past three years for high blood sugars due to drinking too much. I hate to say it, but sometimes I honestly forget I’m diabetic. I’ve had it since I was 10 years old and am just tired of it. I wish there was something I could do to make my situation better but feel helpless. That’s kind of why I was hooked on his story from the beginning, because I was hoping for a resolution to the problem, yet there was none. Does anyone have any ideas or any sources for websites, etc; that may offer some help/support? Thanks!

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