Diabetes Is Already Psychologically Demanding, So Cut the Stigma Too
When Rachel Kerstetter woke up the morning of Aug. 11, 2011, she knew something was wrong. She had risen multiple times during the night. She was extremely thirsty and her vision was blurry. She needed to go to the bathroom more often than usual.
She could trace some of the symptoms back a couple of weeks, but she thought it was just stress. She and her husband, Brad, had just married that May, and were adjusting to life as newlyweds; they were both searching for jobs right out of college; and Kerstetter was dealing with family drama, all while her father was hospitalized with cancer.
But after she experienced nausea and vomiting that particular night, Brad made her go to the doctor — and it ended up saving her life.
Kerstetter was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease that causes a person's pancreas to produce little or no insulin — a hormone that converts sugar into the energy we need to survive. Doctors found high glucose and ketones in her urine, and after a three-night stay in the hospital, she was released with basic instructions for insulin shots, along with some dietary guidelines. For the past few years, she has used an insulin pump and a continuous glucose monitor to keep her blood sugar in check.
But even after her third "diaversary" earlier this month, Kerstetter, now 25, continues to deal with a less talked-about side effect of diabetes: stigma.
As with other diseases, such as mental illness, a general lack of information causes many to misunderstand and judge those with diabetes. People often combine the disease's different types under one Continue reading