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So let’s talk ‘diabetic intervention’

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I wasn’t able to watch the episode until 1 am last night because I was otherwise occupied (cough… One Tree Hill… cough) during the first airing.

When I was accurately diagnosed, I was in my senior year of college. Although, I moved back home for graduate school I went to all my appointments alone and basically learned about this disorder as an ‘adult’.

That does not mean that my parents did not cry their own tears and worry about their child. I have a feeling no matter how old we get, our parents will worry about about their children – diabetes or not.

Add diabetes to the mix and that just gives them all the more to worry about. I would also think that giving your child control over something that actually means life or death to them is very hard. John’s parents were dealing with a lot. Some of John’s issues, and some of their own issues. Someone on one of the diabetes message boards said that he wasn’t dealing with any part of his life, not just the diabetes and that it was just a lot of hype that it was a story of a “diabetic out of control”. Part of me definitely agrees with that.

I just wish – for once – we got a REAL profile of diabetes in the mainstream media.

Here are some of my other thoughts on the episode (written in order as the show aired):

  • I think they focused too much on John’s food choices. I know it is hard to give someone making poor choices control, but I think he also was rebelling a little from his lack of control in the other areas of his life.
  • Was John’s primary problem his diabetes, or was it his depression and social frustrations? Feeling like you have nothing to live for and feeling like you have the absolute power to control that in your hands?
  • Wow he looks thin! I wonder how often he was dealing with crazy high numbers and DKA…
  • Not really relevant, but man was he using an old meter!
  • That family pretty much hit the auto-immune jackpot didn’t they?!
  • The dad’s got diabetes too. Gee, Intervention, thanks for the note about how well controlled he is. No offense, but he is probably a much easier to control Type 2 (no offense readers, but it is easier to control).
  • I wish they would have hired a different ‘interventionist’. This guy does a lot of the episodes and I wish they would have had someone who knew a little more about the emotional implications of diabetes.
  • “If you don’t take accountability for your actions, you will kill your mother”. What the heck?! I cannot see how they thought that would help. The kid is trying to kill himself and is obviously upset about his mother’s condition. That is why they needed someone with a working knowledge of diabetes.
  • I am upset he was dismissed from treatment, but it looks like it helped him along the path. At least he looks like a normal weight now.
  • “He has maintained normal blood sugar levels since September 29, 2008” And I’m the Queen of England! At the beginning of the episode they themselves said normal was between 80 and 120 and then when they show him testing post treatment he was at 78 (and about to do yardwork!). 
  • I wish they would not have wrapped the end of the episode up in such a nice, neat, perfect little package for him. That’s not what diabetes is and that does nothing for the friends and family who think we just have “a touch of the sugar”


On an somewhat related note, I have two doctors appointments tomorrow. 10 am at the endocrinologist for the I-pro (MM CGMS where only the doc sees the results) and 11:30 at the podiatrist for my toe. I will continue to keep you posted on both – whether you like it or not!


Please keep in mind this post was written between 1:15 am and 2:15 am if parts of it don’t make sense!


11 responses

  1. Sara good luck with the toe (I don’t remember reading bout it).

  2. I did watch, and mostly enjoy the episode.

    By the end it was pretty clear that the major obsticle this kid was dealing with was depression, and I can totally relate to how that affects everything else in life.

    I did wish it was a little more diabetic focused, maybe taking someone who really wants to do well, but just can’t get it figured out, to show just how hard living healthy with diabetes can be.

    Thanks for bringing this episode to my attention Sara – I would have missed it if it weren’t for you.

    Keep us posted on the doctor appointments – we’re all curious to hear how they go.

  3. Sara –
    I also felt that the major problem with John was depression – right of the bat. And not just regarding his diabetes, but his ADD & social issues.

    Depression is absolutely a part of diabetes – if you don’t address one, the other suffers.

    Spot on about the meter – it was older than dust.

    I felt the writers needed to do more research on diabetes, both t1 and t2. The should have read some dblogs to get a grip on life with D. Everyday is different with this disease.

    I was happy to hear him mention counting carbs at the beginning of the episode – it would have been great if they would have explained about insulin, carb counting, and how they all tie together as a whole.

    How come no one mentioned going to a CDE? Or askingm “Has John ever gone to a CDE?” It was very obvious that he needed one. Sorry folks at INTERVENTION, but again – DO YOUR HOMEWORK.

    Glad he gained weight – I thought the same thing about the DKA just by looking at him..

    Was not a fan of the Intervention host either.

    Parents of t1’s obviously go through the emotional gauntlet daily, but in order for a t1 child to grow into an independent adult – kids need to be given some “chores ” regarding D from the beginning. Be it giving the parents a carb count on the box of crackers or making sure they back a snack for a family outing. It not only makes them feel grown up, but they are actively participating in their diabetes management – that’s huge.

    Sara – thanks for the heads up & hope your toe feels better.
    Let us know whats going on!

  4. I hated that the dad was in “10 times better control” with diabetes but HIS diabetes but his is different. They should have explained that.

    I feel bad. I wanted to send him an email and tell him to join the online community. Seriously, he needs D-friends.

    I won’t watch that show again. I hated the ending but I will tell you, it seemed most of his issues were with his dad. Mom’s letter had not much effect on him but the dad’s letter really touched him.

  5. After last nights show, I can’t get John out of my mind. He resembled so closely my nephew that we lost to this very disease 10 months ago to the day that the show aired.

    Not only was his story so similar, but at times I had to do double takes at John’s image to make sure it wasn’t my Terry. Over an eleven year period we watched him go from a healthy boy diagnosed T1 at 18 years old, to a 6’2″ less than a hundred pounds, in and out of intensive care, diabetic comas, stomach pumps, insulin regulators, wheel chairs, to dead a month after his 29th birthday. We as a family are still heart broken, his parents…devastated.

    But more to his character credit, he went from a boy who felt he never fit in, to creating a life that endeared him into the hearts of so many people that he is now deeply missed by a large part of the town he lived in. I wish I could talk to John, and perhaps avoid the backslide that is so easily to succomb to. “Little Terry” touched so many people, the world will never be the same without him… likewise, it will never be the same because of him.

    John, if you read this, know that there are a lot of people who would feel lucky to be your friend, and that you have a lot to contribute to this crazy world, don’t wait too long to find your niche, along with realizing the reasons to stay healthy!

    Terry’s Aunt Lisa

  6. I posted on tudiabetes after the show…

    Thank you for letting us know about it on twitter Sara!

    The very first thing that bothered me before we even found out dad was diabetic was his comment about how managing diabetes is so easy! That almost made me want to punch the dad through the tv set…..

    I do see where the boy had other issues but I do know how diabetes can bring on bout’s of depression…everyone is different…it may take some a few hours to turn around, some years to dig themselves out from under it…but depression can snowball very quickly…

    Also I wish they would have addressed the issues of hormones, leptin and other things that can cause carb eating & sugar cravings to spiral out of control…so many people on twitter remarked about how he should just put down the cake plate, stop eating sugar etc…while some of that we as diabetics have to take responsibility but also factor in leptin, hormones etc. and you have a timebomb that can build upon itself….with carbs….once you start (like the boy in the show was obviously carb overloading) it is very hard to break the cycle and go back to “clean eating” again….

    all & all it was very thought-provoking and I’m sure there are many out there that used it for a wake-up call even if it is not to the extreme the show was… I know I watched the the show and could relate somewhat and am going to use it as a stepping stone to move in the right direction to getting back tighter control…

  7. Sara, thanks for writing about this episode and I have to say I had a lot of the same concerns about it.

    I was really disappointed by the lack of distinction between type 1 and type 2, and the way the episode implied that it is possible for a type 1 to achieve normal glucose levels ALL the time. Also, I don’t think they gave the audience nearly enough information about the complications he is risking (and already has). I was pretty surprised by this, as I saw an earlier episode of Intervention (ep. 14, Corrine) featuring a girl with type-1 who was also addicted to heroin and meth – and I thought they actually did a pretty decent job of explaining the risks and complications in that episode. Maybe they have new writers now?

    Sorry to ramble, but I just have to add that I expected to feel a lot of anger towards John before I watched the episode. Instead, it seemed to me that his father (who I assume is type 2) thinks his son’s diabetes can controlled very easily, and I would guess that John was made to feel like a “bad diabetic” long before he was really out of control. Enough of that will make anyone want to stop trying. I really hope that John can get out on his own and find his own motivation.

  8. I watch Intervention all the time. It is usually a compelling, educational, and sometime myth shattering program. I work with recovering alcoholics and drug addicts all the time and also suffer from Type I diabetes. The Intervention format did not fit the disease of diabetes very well at all. God bless them for trying though. Every little bit helps.

  9. I’m in the midst of writing an epic blog post on this now that I’ve assembled my thought about it. You’ve made some really good points and observations, and I’m hoping you won’t mind if I quote you. I’ve got my eye on a couple of decent chunks of text so I wanted to get your permission. Let me know 🙂

  10. Lee Ann –

    I e-mailed you back. I look forward to reading it.

  11. Am I the only one who wanted to beat the shit out of this John guy? His mom’s sick and he’s moping around eating ice cream? What a momma’s boy. Getting sick so she’d take care of him? WTF? Someone should beat some sense into him.

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