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Diabetes and public perceptions

AS THE PARENT of a child with type 1 diabetes, I want to thank Dr. Howard A. Wolpert and Dr. Alan C. Moses for their eloquent argument against the state's proposed cuts in Medicaid coverage for supplies so badly needed by people with diabetes (op ed, Feb. 2).


Our daughter, now almost 14, was diagnosed at the age of 4, and is on an insulin pump. It has been necessary to do up to 12 blood tests a day to keep her safe in the present, and for the future. If blood testing strips were limited, I don't know how she would get through a day, let alone her life, which would certainly be shortened by many years.

I would also ask the Globe to reconsider using the word "diabetic" to describe someone with diabetes. I can't think of any other illness in which the sufferer is identified by the adjective describing the illness. I hope our daughter is not identified by her illness. She is a female, a teen, a musician, a student, an athlete who happens to have diabetes. This may seem like a small point of political correctness, but the implications are powerful and engender prejudice.

Finally, is the accompanying illustration by Elizabeth Rock supposed to show a person testing his blood sugar? It depicts two hands, one holding what seems to be a lancet, and a stream of dark liquid, which may be blood, flowing from the lancet, leaving a large pool on a table. This image is misleading. With recent meters, only a tiny drop of blood is needed.

The important issue here is Medicaid coverage. The other issues, however subtle, may contribute to prejudice, which may in turn contribute to the political willingness to shortchange people with diabetes.



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