Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Bayer Diabetes Web Site and a Helpful Book about Diabetes for School-Aged Children and their Teachers

My Health-Brochure Collection

I am a bag lady.  That is . . . when it comes to state fairs, county fairs, health fairs or displays of health- related-flyers at the doctor's office, pharmacy or anywhere else, I eagerly pick up a copy of whatever looks like good information for patients.  My bag full of brochures may not garner my attention again for a while, but I'm reluctant to get rid of any of it until I've carefully considered each item.  My current goal is to whittle down the stack of brochures and booklets that I've had way too long.  One brochure in my collection can't go to the trash without a few words of disapproval . . .

But . . . I Don't Always Like what I Collect

Sometime back at the endocrinologist's office I selected a brochure in the waiting room called, "Will Diabetes Ever Be Cool?"  It was published by Bayer Healthcare Diabetes Care ostensibly as patient eductation, but actually as a mechanism to influence interest in their Ascencia Contour Blood Glucose Monitoring System.  I'll happily place this booklet in the trash tomorrow, but not after commenting here about why I utterly despise this booklet.  Happily, it's old enough that I doubt this stupid little pamphlet is still cluttering up any doctor's waiting room. 

Why I hate this booklet: "Will Diabetes Ever Be Cool?"


Honestly, it doesn't take a psych course in Erikson's stages of childhood development to recognize that kids want to fit in with their peers and be cool.  We who have survived childhood know that fitting in and thriving socially is difficult enough without the added burden of a chronic disease or medical condition.  And in truth, to have (or not have) diabetes doesn't necessarily have any impact on the tenuous and multi-faceted intricacies of "coolness."  This booklet is obviously aimed at kids, the cover and first few pages are designed to look like typical notebook scribbles and graffiti, and I hold Bayer responsible for a poor effort in producing this booklet for mass distribution in the diabetes community.

I truly believe that even if I wasn't the parent of a type 1 diabetic I would still find it outright offensive to ask a kid, "Will diabetes ever be cool?"  And then to answer the question on the inside cover with a huge "NO," followed by the condescending: "after all, it's a disease."  Other similar want-to-be gems of wisdom on those first few pages aim to reassure kids that despite their uncool diabetes "there's nothing to be ashamed of," "just accept it," and "the best attitude is NO BIG DEAL."  The end of the kids' section plants a rather mixed message of "just remember you are no different than anyone else."

Wow, Bayer, NO thanks for this horrid little brochure and let me suggest that to avoid publishing such insulting drivel in future you enlist the expertise of an MPH with experience in behavioral theories and media marketing.  This brochure is insulting to kids who are learning to manage Type 1 diabetes.  From day 1 with Type 1 diabetes, both parents and kids KNOW that managing this condition absolutely IS a BIG DEAL. Yes, it gets easier to manage Type 1 Diabetes with experience and education.  With an eye on today, we can prevent future complications of the illness that are absolutely a big deal.  It's unconscionable to present such a mixed up message and an insulting one to young people who are depending upon a responsible message. 

One good thing about the brochure--Suggestion for a kid-friendly book on diabetes

This booklet has one redeeming factor in that it recommends a book for kids in elementary school called, "Taking Diabetes to School," written by Kim Gosselin, mother of a Type 1 Diabetic .  If you are a parent, teacher or school nurse this book appears to be a good investment in cultivating peer-understanding that will help a youngster with Type 1 diabetes both meet their unique needs and assimilate into the school routine.  I had never heard of this children's book before, but it does have good reviews online and the price is certainly reasonable (check it out on your favorite online book site).

Bayer's Current Diabetes Website

I visited the Bayer diabetes website before writing this piece, mostly to confirm that this horrid booklet is no longer part of their offerings (and I can't find it there).  Their current diabetes-related campaign is called Simplewins.  The information they offer appears worthwhile.  Check it out and you are likely to find something of interest.  Of course product marketing drives the site, so be prepared for advertising about their glucose meters.  (I glimpsed one that is a USB drive, very nice for easy downloading the meter-data without needing to order extra cables and software.)

Looking at the bright side (with humor)

While the truth is we don't want any kid to have to deal with a chronic medical condition, we don't need to rub their nose in the "uncoolness" of it all.  I found this blog link to offer just the right amount of wit and good humor as the author offers 5 reasons why having diabetes is cool.

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