Invisible Illness

Invisible Illness Week was last fall, and apparently Paula Deen was participating. 

The opinions and criticisms are flying after Ms. Deen's revelation on Tuesday's Today Show that she was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes three years ago.

Many questions are being asked, but the intriguing one for me is, "why now?"  Is it, as the cynics suggest, that she was waiting for a corporate sponsor of her revelation?  Perhaps, but I can see other motivations.

She stated on the Today show that she waited because she "wanted to bring something to the table."  Her straight face did not reveal whether the pun was inteneded.  I can certainly understand the sentiment.

When we reveal to anyone that my daughter has diabetes, the barrage of questions begins.  How long has she had it?  Does she check her blood sugar?  How often?  Does she take shots?  How does the pump work?  Can she eat sugar? 

Or, the barrage of assumptions begins.  That must be so difficult for you.  I can't believe she can't eat sugar.  By now, it must all be second nature to you.  There will be a cure soon.

Watching the response to Paula Deen's announcement, the obvious question to me was why she decided to disclose her diagnosis at all. 

The onslaught of diabetes stereotypes has been brutal.  Whether she brought this disease upon herself, I don't know.  Whether she should continue to cook and teach people to cook the type of food she's famous for is not up to me.  What I do know is that from this point forward, her illness will never be invisible again.  She will be answering questions and responding to assumptions for the forseeable future. 

No matter her motivations, how she developed the disease or how she moves forward in caring for it,  it's hard to disagree that making her invisible illness internationally visible was a brave thing for Paula Deen to do. I can see why she'd wait until she was mentally and emotionally prepared to do it.

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