My Research is Approved… Almost!

I’m thrilled to spread news today that my dissertation committee approved my project. I now am ready to share more of the study details and story of how we got here. I will note up front, however, that I am still waiting on approval from the ethical review board at my home university before I can officially begin with data collection and participant recruitment and all that fun stuff!

Hence, my research is approved, sort of.

Before sharing the details of the project, I’d like to explain a part of the process which has haunted me a little bit. I got a bit over eager when I first put all the pieces together for my first proposal defense. I even conducted some of the research activities under the impression that it was feasible since it was helping me develop the project. I was wrong about that. I was gently scolded by my committee and then reprimanded by the IRB! To those community members who I have worked with on dissertation-related projects, I will be able to contact you again regarding this after the proposal is approved by the ethical review board!

Now, on to the project details!


Across social media platforms, persons with diabetes engage in discourses on the condition of diabetes. Topics discussed range from basic illness symptomology and treatment to taboo intrapersonal tips on how to have sex while wearing an insulin pump. Among these topics is representation. Persons with diabetes discuss stereotypes and stigmas attached to the diagnosis. For example, some may cast doubt on the connection between diabetes and overeating, while others may promote a representation of the diabetic athlete unhindered by their disease. Some seek normalcy through shared experience with peers in online fora. Diabetes online communities (DOCs), of which there are several spanning a variety of social media platforms, have been documented as sites of cultural and peer support exchange. While some research has been done to understand benefits and consequences of participation in DOCs at an individual level1, none has examined it as a location of representation discourse. Counter-narrative social media movements like #IWishPeopleKnewDiabetes, #InsulinForAll, and #WeAreNotWaiting are active forums for both individual and collective cyber-activism. Though the condition of diabetes has been depoliticized through individualization in media, healthcare, and academy, discourses taking place on social media suggest that the diabetes lived-experience is political. It is vital that methods which capture the sociocultural context unfolding across diabetes online communities are used to examine this. Again, however, very little research has yet to take this approach. The purpose of the overall study is to identify and analyze dominant and counter-narratives within a sample of DOCs in order to better understand how the condition of diabetes is being politicized via online social media spaces.


The framework for this study will employ the philosophies of two methodological approaches, namely participatory action research (PAR) and netnography. PAR emphasizes community collaboration, action-oriented participation, shared ownership throughout the research process, and social change-making2 and netnography emphasizes researcher immersion, cultural exploration, thick description through field notes and interviews, and iterative data analysis of online groups3. These two frameworks will provide a cultural, action-oriented lens through which to examine DOCs as cultural sites. Both frameworks require the use of reflexive methods to guide research design and analysis4 and offer opportunities for researchers to focus on collective and connective apparatuses of mobilization and social change, rather than individualistic outcomes and changes5. Lastly, the flexibility of these approaches allows for overlapping research activities that inform each other. The netnography is member checked by PAR collaborators, and the PAR collaborator meeting discussion and content are informed by the netnography.

Cool, Huh?

At this point, I am sharing for the sake of releasing this information up front. I will continue to post about the progress of this project and list any engagement opportunities moving forward.

For now:


Research Opportunity with Policy Implications: #InsulinForAll

One of my goals with this blog is to share research opportunities with you! And today I have an exciting one to share. I’ve been involved in the development of this survey, but played only a very small role. I was involved enough, though, to vouch for it and the implications the results will carry.

This 25-30 minute survey asks about the financial challenges related to accessing diabetes medications and supplies. It asks about the experiences we have had with trading, selling, and donating our supplies to help each other out.

This topic is so important right now with the price of insulin soaring and a larger percent of PWD not being able to afford it. I personally have had to borrow insulin, test strips, and pump supplies from friends just to get by. When I was pregnant I had terrible insurance and was forced to think about my insulin usage in a different way.

The survey is de-identified, so there is no risk that your responses will be tied back to you. I realize that it can feel unsafe to give researchers this information as trading, selling, and donating supplies is technically ‘off label’.

There are policy implications of this survey that could benefit the movement to make insulin more affordable. So I urge you to please take the time to fill out this survey and share it with your diabuddies and DOC friends (also applicable to parents of kiddos with diabetes and partners).

If you have #diabetes or care for someone who does, please consider taking this anonymous survey. #T1D #T2D #insulin4all



A Little More on Motherhood, Chronically Speaking

A dear friend sent me an article yesterday called, “Invisible Labor Can Negatively Impact Wellbeing in Mothers” by Kimberlee D’Ardenne at ASU. The article discusses a recent study asking mothers about their role in parenting and home as well as about their life satisfaction.


The article and research findings were striking but also a big ol’ DUHHHHH.

When asked about the division of labor in the household, 90% of women reported they are solely responsible for organizing family schedules and routines, even though 65% of them are employed.

The article explores this idea as invisible labor. It argues that mothering is labor that isn’t seen or recognized. It is done without pay, and generally without time off. In my studies, this kind of work has been called informal labor, but labor all the same. Mothers who reported being solely responsible for their family’s routine, schedule, and the like were found to have decreased levels of satisfaction with their lives and relationships. And these women feel less satisfied in part because they don’t have time for themselves or their own self-care.

When reading the article and the corresponding study, I begin thinking about mothers who have chronic illness(es) on top of having a job and or career. Further, I began considering my own experiences with motherhood and chronic illness. I share the following not to toot my own horn, but to expose what I think is a fundamental cultural flaw that I at some point in my life deeply internalized.

I am the mother of a 15-month old. I work two part-time jobs. I am finishing school to earn a PhD in Disability Studies. I am working on completing nine manuscripts for scientific journals. I am also writing a book. I take 75% of the household responsibilities, maintaining the family calendar, transporting Bubs to and from daycare daily, grocery shopping, etc. My husband helps every chance he can, but his work schedule is so demanding that that help is limited. On top of all that, I have multiple chronic illnesses that I have to manage every day every hour of every day. Doing all of this should not be seen as impressive, it should be seen as foolish. I am spreading myself too thin because at some point I internalized the notion that success looks like doing it all. Deep inside my psyche is a fear that if I don’t accomplish specific things, I will not be accomplished.

I’m tired.

I feel valued, but being valued doesn’t improve my level of exhaustion. Being valued doesn’t help me take time for me. And I think this article turned something in my mind. Below is the excerpt that did that.


We talk about mothers needing more time to “self-care” while they take care of their partners and children and dogs and cats and fish. With chronic illness, I’ve always known and believed that when I am able to self-care I will do better with my disease management.  Herein lies the problem inherent in motherhood and in chronic illness (and rampant when combined). All the care of the mother and the person with chronic illness is the responsibility of the mother and person with chronic illness.

Mothers need to be cared for. Mothers need to be nurtured. Caring for them doesn’t stop at giving them time and space to self-care. This idea is so foreign to me that I don’t even know what it would look like. In my home, I feel loved. I feel loved and valued and appreciated for all I do. I feel cared for in that my husband and family care about my well being. However, I also feel like if I stopped the labor of caring that I do, there would be chaos. It’s a chaos I think would organize itself overtime in my absence, but it would be such for a long while. To say people care for is true. To say the labor of caring for myself is solely on me is also true. This applies to motherhood and chronic illness as they exist separately and as they overlap.


If chronic illness was added to the mix, I wonder how the study results would change? I also wonder what would surface if the researchers asked mothers what it would look like to them to be nurtured, to not rely on self-care, but to be cared for with invisible labor from their partners and or children.

What would it look like to you?  To the women who don’t have children but who have chronic illness or a disability, what would it be like to not have to self-care because your partner or parent took on the labor of caring for you? Is this a fantasy, or are there things we could do to allow our loved ones to share in the invisible labor of caring?

I don’t have the answers. Though I am fully prepared to embrace any suggestions for how to move away from my own internalized oppression and allow those around me to share in the labor of caring.

FUNDING! Get out?!?


I am still in a state of shock and disbelief about what I am about to share… It’s good news, no, great news. It’s the news I needed to ‘just keep swimming.’

You see, I had recently failed my proposal defense. The defense was brutal; it totally kicked me down. I was excited and engrossed in the carrying out of my project going into it, and completely deflated by the end. In just two hours, too. Three years of planning, networking, learning, and heart-investment just felt a waste. I took about two weeks to feel that ickiness. I allowed myself the time to think about it and process. And then, I moved on.

I started throwing myself into projects. The result of which is three completed manuscripts and four more in progress. Also, I am writing a book with two friends and colleagues (more on that in another post). I shifted modes and started giving more time to the academic work of others, helping them work through hang-ups like I was, in that same moment, experiencing. I scoured the internet for funding opportunities, open collaborations, speaking engagements, and the like. I’ve been applying to so many things the last month I had to start a spreadsheet to keep track!!!

Having emerged from that haze of applications, I can say with undue honesty that my underlying goal was to find a source(s) of external validation. I desperately needed to feel of value in this particular way. And in that process, I went from feeling like a failure with bunk ideas to a thoughtful and masterful researcher again. Rather than build myself a ladder to climb out of the hole I was in, I dug a system of tunnels!

All of this is to share the impetus behind the GREAT STINKIN’ NEWS!  One of the applications I submitted was a grant for the UIC Provost’s Graduate Research Award. It’ s $5,000 grant to support preliminary dissertation research. And guess what?



This is huge news in the academic world, but also for the community members I am and will be working with throughout the rest of my journey as a graduate student.

You all, I get to PAY YOU for your time and ideas.

I’m over the moon and back on the horse. I am planning to share a series of blog posts to discuss what my project is and how I will be doing it. I can’t wait to get this thing finally approved and move onward, my friend, onward.

For now, I will leave you with the suggested title:

Politicizing the Condition of Diabetes Online: Counter-Narratives and the Pursuit of Normalcy

Whoo hoo!! Let’s do this thingy!

Diabetes and Motherhood

My pregnancy was a surprise. It was a happy, warm, lovely, surprise, but also a terrifying one. My diabetes wasn’t well managed and my life wasn’t where I thought I wanted it to be before starting a family. I was gearing up to write my masters thesis and, well, I’d recently been mugged and was filled with anxiety about the brevity of life. I wanted to accomplish my goals, only one of which was becoming a mom. When I learned I was pregnant, I was afraid I’d already caused the fetus damage. The day prior to peeing on that stick my blood sugar rose to 513. I’t’s been over a year and a half and I still remember that number. I was also relieved to learn I could conceive. Finding out whether or not I ever could is something I was dreading. I so badly wanted to experience pregnancy and to have a baby, but a little bit of me never wanted to try in case I couldn’t. I feared that heartbreak. But, there I was, unexpectedly pregnant. Both celebrating my ability to create life, and crying through the unknown of getting through a pregnancy with diabetes.

Pregnancy was not a glowy time. My feet were swollen, I had epic heartburn, I cried all the time, and I had to get down on one knee to pick up the dog’s poop. I had so many doctors appointments I had to delay taking the oral part of my preliminary exams, and I was as tired as a night owl at dawn. But, I got through it. I got through it with the best diabetes management I’ve ever had. Also, I was a forking boss at birthing that baby. I labored for 48 hours and then had a non-emergent cesarean section.


Then, I became a mom. My son, called Bubs on social media, is a light in my life. He is one of my motivators for good health and a source of happiness. As a mom, there is this little bit of fear that creeps up now and again, though. I try and repress it, or face it and accept it. But it is cyclical. Even when I accept it, it comes back in new ways. It is diabetes. It’s my diabetes and the fear that I may pass it to him. It’s the fear that he may see me have a seizure one day, or have to intervene to help. This is a fear that just sits there, dormant until it’s not. And I think it just sits there because it’s an unknown.

When Bubs was just four months old, I did have a seizure in my sleep and he was in the room. There is little I’m more thankful for than the decision to not co-sleep that night. I scratched the fork out of my own face during the seizure, the effects of which remain in scar-form below my right eye. I’ve had a couple other diabetes-related sicknesses recently that reduced my capacity to care for him.

Being a mom with a chronic illness is a careful psychological balance of acceptance, self-care, and pushing through the tough stuff. I’ve never felt so tested, nor so rewarded. But, by golly, this shit is HARD. I need more help than I’m usually willing to admit, and I’m always wondering if what I’m able to do and give is enough.

I have talked with other mommas with chronic illness about this, and some other moms who don’t. Guess what? We all feel this way. We all worry that we will not be able to be what and whom our kids need us to be. We all play a game of push through and surrender, push through and surrender. We all hope and cross our fingers that our kids will accept us as we are, with all our flaws, disabilities, and eccentricities. We are all just doing the best we can with what we have got going for us.

My goal in this post is not to claim normalcy or to align my diabetes motherhood with the able-bodied experience. Our experiences are different. Motherhood with diabetes is not the same as motherhood sans diabetes. I will never have just motherhood. But, I’m okay with that. I know that the challenges in my life have mostly made me stronger. Some have broken me down, but mostly I’ve come out of traumas with growth.

Life with diabetes has taught me that motherhood with diabetes is a damn good opportunity for growth. Parts are going to forking suck. But, other parts are going to be beautiful. Motherhood with diabetes is something I will never take for granted. Motherhood with diabetes is motherhood, and I’m ever grateful for that.

Now, if I could just get through all this laundry….

On the question of disability… (again)


I am currently taking my last formal class toward my PhD in Disability Studies. Yahoooo for milestones! The class is called Disability Oppression and Resistance. In class last week, my professor made an argument that clarified the question of disability as it relates to diabetes (though he wasn’t applying his argument directly to this).

He argued, “You don’t have to know you are disabled to be disabled, if society treats you as disabled then you are! Society chooses.” In other words, what determines your qualification as disabled does not depend on your willingness to identify, nor does it depend on the physical impairment you may have. Rather, it depends on how society treats you.

In the context of diabetes, then, I’m considering, how does society treat us? Based on my lived experience, constantly hearing things like “I could never do that,” and “you should not eat that, right?” leads me toward the conclusion that we are treated like we are different. And moreover, we are treated like we are different in the bad kind of way. And this reflection is not just individual. There are systemic ways we are treated differently. For example, I have over 2k in medical bills I’m slowly paying off because my body doesn’t function typically, because it needs more. We’re made to pay outrageous prices for medications without which we will literally die. This is oppressive. I’d love to take that 2 grand and travel to Europe. I have able-bodied friends doing that right now.

Based on my studies and deep dive into disability identity theories – reading about the marginalization and degradation of minority identity- leads me toward the conclusion that society treats us as Others (the capital O indicates a marginalized other). But, from what I’ve seen, our collective resists that. It’s complicated.

In the diabetes world, we reproduce a relatively sticky social contradiction. We fight for our right to accommodation at school and at work. We simultaneously fight to not be seen as limited by the condition. We want the benefits of association without the stigma we believe is attached to it. Can we have both? Or is this contradiction holding us back?

As I continue to develop my dissertation project, I’m curious about what we resist, how we resist it, and what we are trying to accomplish. What are we hoping for by spreading awareness messages? If we are fighting against being associated with the disability identity, what do we hope will come from others thinking we aren’t? If we are fighting against the diabetes stereotype, where do we direct our messages? What changes are we hoping to see?

If there are gatekeepers, who are they, where are they, and how do we get to them? When we lodge counter-arguments to the social construction of diabetes as the lazy person’s disease, who do we send them to?

I want to know so much more about the oppression we face and what we do to resist it. What do you think about this? What do you resist? What engages your cyberactivism? Where do you think we are headed from here if we continue to resist the ways we have been?





Where I’ve been

I’ve been silent on this blog since May of last year because I took the time to focus on my MS thesis and then passing my preliminary exams toward my PhD. Oh, and I had a baby. You can look forward to this blog picking back up now.

I’m a working mom who brings her son to work because childcare would cost me more than I make working. This blog will occasionally contain my kid. I call him Bubs.


Diabetes Blog Week: Day Two – CO$T

So, today in #dblogweek, we talk dolla dolla bills ya’ll. Just a forewarning…


Below is the prompt:

Click here for the The Cost of a Chronic Illness – Tuesday 5/16 Link List – Insulin and other diabetes medications and supplies can be costly.  Here in the US, insurance status and age (as in Medicare eligibility) can impact both the cost and coverage.  So today, let’s discuss how cost impacts our diabetes care.  Do you have advice to share?  For those outside the US, is cost a concern?  Are there other factors such as accessibility or education that cause barriers to your diabetes care?  (This topic was inspired by suggestions from Rick and Jen.)

My Response:     (… warning rant coming) 

Last September, when I turned the lovely age of 26, my insurance changed.  My new insurance covers about 80% of all durable medical equipment. There is no deductible, and no co-pay. I just have to pay 20% of whatever I need. Seems reasonable.


After nearly ten years of pumping, I was forced back to multiple daily injections (MDI) because my income wouldn’t allow for that 20%. So here I am, about eight months later, still royally pissed about it all. I’m not upset that I have to use MDI. I’m doing really well with it, best management in a while actually.

What I am upset about is the fact that my insurance is allowed to dictate what treatment and therapies I use by covering the cheaper options at a higher rate. I’m infuriated by the fact that our healthcare system prioritizes their bottom-line above my health.

In the past, I’ve argued the case that all chronic illness = disability –> because of the cost. In the US we are made to pay for the care and supplies we need to survive. The lives of those with more resources are seen as more valuable than are those without. This is undeniable if you just look at the rhetoric we use to talk about healthcare.

We talk about freedom – freedom to choose what kind of healthcare you want. Freedom to not help pay for your fellow citizen health, because what’s it to you anyway? Here’s the problem: We have a fundamental and systemic attribution error occurring EVERYWHERE. When a poor person relies on medicaid for insurance, we assume they are lazy free-riders. That is, we attribute their use of government funds to their character, or lack thereof. However, when we get fired and are forced to rely on government assistance to make up the income, we attribute our own use of it to circumstance.

At a systems level, people with chronic illness are punished through forced expenditure. My body doesn’t meet the norm. It requires more. So, I am automatically and forcibly entered into a market, in which those who do  meet the norm will never need to “choose.”

So, my “freedom” as a chronically ill person, is to choose between a therapy that costs me $500/month out of pocket, and a therapy that costs me $200/month.

It doesn’t feel like much of a choice at all. It doesn’t feel like freedom.

It feels like discrimination and deception.


Diabetes Blog Week: Day 1


I’m so happy it is May already and it is Diabetes Blog Week!! Thank you to Karen at Bitter-Sweet Diabetes for once again hosting this important week. EIGHT years folks! Woop-Woop!!

Today’s prompt is: 

Click here for the Diabetes and The Unexpected – Monday 5/15 Link List
Diabetes can sometimes seem to play by a rulebook that makes no sense, tossing out unexpected challenges at random.  What are your best tips for being prepared when the unexpected happens?  Or, take this topic another way and tell us about some good things diabetes has brought into your, or your loved one’s, life that you never could have expected?  (Thank you, Heather, for inspiring this topic!)

When diabetes doesn’t play by the rules I suggest the following:

When you are unexpectedly hyperglycemic:

  1. Keep a mini-trampoline handy. In my experience it works best at activating the insulin you already injected or pumped in. giphy2
  2. Have a low-carb, low-protein snack handy for when you get the high-blood glucose hungry hungries going on. When blood sugar is high, we want to not make more work for the kidneys by asking them to process more protein. Pick something like sugar free jello and eat as much of it as you want. Mmmmm. Jello. giphy3
  3. When you are in range, tell your friends and family that you can be kind of a bummer-tastic a-hole when your blood sugar is high. But you don’t like being this way, so tell them winter is coming. That way, when the hyperglycemia comes on, they know to be more sensitive to you.  giphy4

When you are unexpectedly hypoglycemic:

  1. If you’re like me and tend to eat all the things when you are low, at the ten minute mark, take insulin for the carbs you ate minus 15-20 grams (depending on the low – also CONSULT YOUR DOCTOR FIRST). We might get a little fluffy doing this, but it is better than skyrocketing up to the 300 post low! giphy5
  2. Be kind to yourself. Lows happen. giphy6

Welp! That is it for me today! See ya tomorrow!

An Open Letter to The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease (NIDDK)

Dear committee members of The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease,

I am Heather Gabel, student researcher at University of Illinois at Chicago, diabetes advocate and fellow, and blogger in the diabetes online community. I would like to thank the committee for hearing my perspective of the funding structure and policy of the National Institute for Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease (NIDDK) and what the American Diabetes Association is doing to confront the problem of inadequate psychosocial care and treatment for people living with diabetes. I write to you today, committed through professional and personal experience, driven by an impassioned need for change for the diabetes community. I believe that change starts where knowledge is produced: in the labs and research centers working tirelessly to reduce the burden of diabetes.

Diabetes has been called an epidemic in the United States. Nearly 30 million people have been diagnosed and 81 million either prediabetic or undiagnosed, making up just over 29% of the population. The media, the public, and doctors alike see diabetes as a killer; a killer of the economy, a killer of people, a killer of life as you know it. Diabetes is the thing your family member doesn’t take care of. It’s the little voice in your head telling you not to eat an unhealthy meal. Diabetes is the joke no one laughs at anymore. Diabetes is linked with obesity, kidney disease, and many other terrifying complications. Because diagnosis rates are still rising and the costs associated with its maintenance and care continue to skyrocket, billions of dollars have been thrown at curative research and the development of technologies and therapies to reduce those costly complications of poorly-managed diabetes. What is even more striking, is that despite all of the funding, which is estimated at about 1 billion dollars in 2016 alone, 15 million of the 30 million diagnosed do not meet even the basic health outcome goals set forth by the American Diabetes Association. I’ll repeat that again. Fifty-percent of all people living with diabetes in the United States are considered non-compliant. And I will be the first to admit that I am among them.

I was diagnosed with diabetes when I was eleven years old. I have worn an insulin pump for 10 of my 15 years, and been on injections the other five. I have checked my blood glucose over 33,000 times. I’ve seen my endocrinologist 4-8 times per year since diagnosis. I spend about 8,000 hours per year self-managing my diabetes. And, I have been wearing a continuous glucose monitor for the last three years. I am here to tell you that all of this is not enough. I, like the other fourteen-million nine-hundred ninety-nine thousand, nine-hundred ninety-nine people with diabetes not meeting basic health outcomes in the United States, do not have the things I need to be healthy.

You see, managing diabetes doesn’t end after the finger stick and the injection. Conversely, my own experience leads me to believe it doesn’t even start there. Diabetes management is about more than the medical procedures; it is about balancing the psychological and social nature of living with a disease that requires eight-thousand hours of self-management per year. Diabetes is about navigating relationships jeopardized by the irritability that comes with elevated blood glucose. It is about accepting the forever of it all. Diabetes is about preparing for every meal, every walk around the block, every trip to the grocery store, every day at work with precise tools and backup plans.  The problem in the United States is that our health care system largely fails to recognize these psychosocial elements of diabetes at all. Diabetes is a complex disease treated with only with simple solutions.

On November 22, 2016, the American Diabetes Association released a position statement to address the staggering rate of sub-optimal health outcomes in the diabetic population. They argue that diabetes “management cannot be successful unless lifestyle and emotional status of the individual is taken into consideration”. The position statement, geared toward providers, pushes for a more complex plan for diabetes care and treatment. It urges practitioners to focus on the psychosocial elements of diabetes in their practice. I’m thankful to the American Diabetes Association for releasing this pivotal position statement. They are the first major diabetes organization in the United States to do so. With that said, addressing solely providers does not quite go the distance.  Because research on the psychosocial elements of diabetes has only gone so far as to demonstrate that there is a substantial unmet need within the diabetic population, solution-based treatment plans have yet to be developed. The American Diabetes Association is going to begin training providers to identify diabetes-related psychosocial problems in their patients, but because there are no evidence-based treatments specific to diabetes, their training will stop there. If providers are able to identify but not treat a psychosocial problem, the problem persists. People with diabetes will continue to not get the things they need to be healthy.

This is why it is so important to begin shifting the focus of diabetes research toward psychosocial interventions, therapies, programs, and services. Given the complex nature of diabetes, and evidence demonstrating the development of psychosocial problems resulting from it (such as diabetes distress, anxiety, disordered eating), we need this shift to lean toward solution-based research. We need to look for and test a multitude of programs and supports with the potential to reduce the psychosocial burden of diabetes. Perhaps if we can identify solutions to the psychosocial problems, we will be able to live in a country where a higher percentage of people with diabetes meet basic health outcome goals. Perhaps we can even live in a country where people with diabetes are able to thrive just as any other American would.

We have to start creating a system of care that provides what is needed. I believe we can do this by pivoting the research priorities at the National Institute for Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease toward solution-based psychosocial therapies. I ask the committee to consider forming a new tier of research dedicated to this work. There are several community organizations like the Diabetes Collective Inc., DiabetesSisters, Diabetes Hands Foundation, and College Diabetes Network, who have generated and continue to provide psychosocial services to people with diabetes in the U.S. Their collective service-base is in the millions. Leaders of the these organizations, namely, Christel Marchand-Aprigliano, Anna Norton, Gene Kunde, and Christina Roth respectively, are eager to partner with researchers examining psychosocial problems. The capacity is there. The community is willing and able.

We must make this shift because diabetes is not the thing your family member doesn’t take care of. It is the thing they need help with. Diabetes is only a killer when we fail to discover alternative therapies and supports for those impacted by it. Diabetes is not a disease easily managed. It is a complicated, messy chronic illness that interferes in every life experience. We have a responsibility to discover innovative interventions and therapies for the 15 million people living with diabetes in the United States, myself included, whom are being failed by the current medical system despite everyone’s best efforts. We have a responsibility to extend our research beyond the bounds of finger sticks, injections, and the like. We have a responsibility to generate the evidence-based research needed to adequately train providers to move beyond identification of a problem and toward the delivery of a solution. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease, as a generator of knowledge, has a responsibility to field diabetes-specific psychosocial research. As a person with diabetes, I implore each committee member to consider the potential impact doing so could have on people with diabetes in the United States.



Heather Gabel