Wednesday 14 April 2010

False hopes and paper dreams

Picture the scene...

I am a newly diagnosed type 1 diabetic. I've been told I will have to change the way I do pretty much everything. The experts tell me I will do OK if I keep my sugars under tight control, but I don't really know what that will take yet. I know that I will need to inject myself for the rest of my life on a daily basis. I will have to test my blood sugars every few hours I'm awake, and sometimes during the night. I know that if I don't keep good control, the list of things which could happen is almost endless. Will I meet someone who will understand why some days I won't be at my best? Can I do the job I always wanted to do? Can I eat out with friends? Will I have kids and live to see them grow up? I have so many questions.

Whether you are a newly diagnosed diabetic, or someone whose had it 30 years and just wishes it would cut you some slack. Sometimes, things just get too much. You want a way out, or even just a way to make it easier. A rope to cling on to, or even a straw.

So you do a little searching on the Internet.

"Cure diabetes"

That's what the advert reads.

"Reverse diabetes with this simple natural rememdy just discovered".

The website looks smart - it talks intelligently about all the natural remedies which can cure diabetes, in fact it talks about things I've never even heard of! Maybe it's worth a go? I've tried doing things the medicinal way, maybe herbal remedies are the way forward. Maybe the big wig companies who have the money to invest in this just don't because diabetes is a big money industry. At least if I'm still hooked on insulin, I'm giving them some money! I'll just take a look what it costs.

Oooh, it is a bit more expensive than I would have hoped. Plus I have to buy a whole load of pills. Hmm.

Now, don't get me wrong. I spend a lot of time trawling through the Internet looking for updates on stem cell research, on islet cell transplantation, on ways of using the most up to date technology to make my life a bit easier. I am also a big believer in supplements and alternative therapy. I believe our modern diets don't allow for as many combinations of weird and wonderful food types as it used to, and in some cases, beneficial supplements would never have feature in our diet originally, so we need to think outside the box. I believe the answer to diabetes could be a simple as an ingredient found in nature in a simple plant in Outer Mongolia. I have been thinking about acupuncture, I believe in foot massage, I am willing to entertain many ideas. I do believe that there are a multitude of ways to improve the condition and the prognosis, and not just by the conventional means. I try not to rule anything out.

BUT! And it's a big but - I get so frustrated by adverts which feature all over the Internet, claiming to reverse diabetes once and for all. They often word themselves extremely well giving them an air of credibility and believability. The truth is, there are people in labs all over the world, testing those simple plants from Outer Mongolia. There are those who claim hemp oil can make conditions better. And yes, for those people who are AT RISK of diabetes, perhaps due to weight or other lifestyle issues, there ARE ways of having an influence over your future. There are ways of making things easier on your body and avoiding type 2. But to claim that you can 'cure' diabetes using a product which probably hasn't even been through basic safety testing - is in my opinion, plain and simple fraud.

To make promises of taking away this condition, a condition which comes with no guarantees as to how your body will cope with it. One which will set you apart from others, and which no matter how well controlled you are, may well limit your life in some manner - is simply cruel.

No doubt aimed at those who are desperate or still don't understand the physical processes which took place when they were diagnosed. I for one know that my body doesn't do what it is supposed to and won't, for the indefinite future. I understand that the insulin producing beta cells in my pancreas were destroyed or permanently damaged by my very own body. I understand that any insulin I may produce is not enough to keep me alive and certainly not enough to keep my sugar levels in control.

To someone who is still daunted by the awful task of injecting every day or having to watch what they eat, the promise of 'herbal remedies' which will cure - not improve - but cure their diabetes, this promise must be tempting. I mean it must look so unbelievably good.

When I see those adverts I often wonder how many people have been convinced that this is the product that could change their life. How many have parted with money in the hope that maybe, in time, this remedy will free them of this disease.

I really hope there aren't too many. I hope that people haven't been ripped off. I hope they haven't parted with their own money. I hope they haven't waited in for the post to arrive. I hope they didn't peel back the lid of the bottle and peer over the rim with hope in their heart. I hope they didn't set their hopes and dreams on being cured of their sentence. And most of all, I hope it didn't hurt too much when they realised it was just another money maker. That was a long way to fall and I really hope it didn't hurt too much.

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