We have an interesting post today that is perfectly timed in light of all the political debate coverage of the past few weeks. Politics and religion – two topics that definitely fall under the Tough Stuff Umbrella. We would like to thank Sara for bringing this topic to the forefront and sharing why she does what she does as a Health Activist. It’s a great reminder that we all have our own backstories, our own experiences, and our own beliefs that inform our lives and the decisions we make. They are as intricate and inexplicable as anything – and yet, so deeply personal and thus: controversial. Sara’s post reminds us that we can all be different and have our own views and still aim at the same awesome goals of advocating and helping others. –Amanda
On Politics, Religion, & Advocacy
by Sara Nicastro, Moments of Wonderful
The community at WEGO Health has designated October as Tough Stuff Month. In honor of that, I am sharing about some of the uncomfortable topics I deal with as a health activist in the diabetes online community, dealing with the topics of politics and religion.
We’ve all heard or been told the old phrase about how friends should never discuss politics or religion. That is a tough adage to follow when there are news stories about parents causing the death of their children by denying insulin and waiting for a faith healing. It is hard to follow while we are in the midst of an election process that seems to be focused on topic of health care coverage.
I was not diagnosed with diabetes until my last year of college, and so my political and religious views had already been largely formed. Adding a chronic health condition certainly challenged those views. If I believe that God has a plan for everything and that He will make everything work together for good, does that include a chronic health condition that can cause life-altering complications?
Using a term coined by a fellow diabetes advocate, I have come to believe in God and seatbelts. A few years ago I was at a conference that covered, in part, the interaction of faith and health. The speaker wondered if sometimes we treat conditions with medications that could instead be treated by using some of the tenets of faith such as prayer or meditation. A few friends asked me after the session how I felt about the topic.
I proceeded to tell them that when I am anxious, stressed, nervous, or depressed, it often has a large effect on my blood glucose values – sometimes even more than most high carbohydrate foods. When I am experiencing those feelings of anxiousness or depression or am carrying too much stress, I often turn to God through prayer to help reframe and reevaluate my thoughts, feelings, and priorities. I also get my meter out to obtain a scientific measure of my blood sugar. If I need to, I plug that high blood glucose value into my pump and evaluate the need for insulin. And you know what often happens as a result of both of these actions – both together and when done separately? My blood sugar stabilizes. God and seatbelts.
It would be nice if my faith helped me to understand why I have a chronic illness, and I believe that someday it will. Right now, it helps me to be content with my current circumstances. It also provides the purpose for my advocacy.
My faith commands that I pursue justice for everyone as I treat them with love and kindness. I have encountered too many people who have been diagnosed with diabetes but have not received proper treatment or education. They feel lost, confused, and upset. I advocate for them because no one deserves to feel that way. I bring awareness to diabetes so that people everywhere, around the world and in my backyard, know the causes and symptoms of diabetes, differing treatment options, and sometimes most importantly the support available in person and online. They deserve that. That is advocacy. That is justice. That is true faith.
Don’t assume that because of my conservative political and religious beliefs that I am ill-informed or don’t believe in access to medical care for all people with diabetes. Don’t preach tolerance while dismissing anyone who has values that differ from your own. We may have different opinions on the best way to achieve our goals, but my beliefs are the very thing that inspires me to fight alongside you and to continue to advocate for the causes that affect people with diabetes.