I have a disease for which there is no cure. It is type II diabetes. I was “officially” diagnosed 12 years ago. I don’t know how long I had it before it finally caught up to me. For sure, it was a number of years.
Without getting into the damage it causes, type II diabetes is characterized by the body not being able to efficiently process two elements in the food chain from which it is impossible (and unhealthy) to abstain. These are sugar and carbohydrates. Exercise and diet (think “lifestyle”) and medications are the tools used to manage my disease. Abstinence is not an option.
I am pretty sure that my doctor would agree that in the last 12 years I have had this thing fairly under control and that I have not had what could be called a “relapse.” I think of “relapse” in the traditional sense . . . the re-emergence of a condition that requires medical treatment.
Given that I have this chronic disease and given that I have not had a relapse, I began to wonder if I can borrow a phrase from the “addiction” world and say that I am “in recovery” from type II diabetes. After all, both are chronic diseases.
So, using this definition from Betty Ford Institute, I thought about “recovery”:
Recovery is defined as a voluntarily maintained lifestyle characterized by sobriety, personal health, and citizenship.
It is pretty clear (to me at least) that this definition can describe where I am with my disease once the phrase “sobriety” is replaced with “controlling the intake of sugar and carbohydrates.”
The bottom line is I have decided I can say I am “in recovery”.
Before anybody gets too upset about whether I am co-opting a special concept let me talk about what is really at the heart of this blog.
First, even though I don’t have a medical degree, a little common sense says there is no practical reason why the phrase “in recovery” should not be available to all who are successfully managing a chronic disease. It is tantamount to a well earned “badge of honor.” The nature of the disease is irrelevant.
Second, I strongly believe that the substance abuse/addiction/etc. world should encourage this. Lets make it a shared phrase that celebrates personal triumph over all chronic diseases.
Third, and expanding on my second point, associating “in recovery” with “chronic disease” just might get folks thinking about some of the stigma associated with “addiction.”
Our Vision is bold: A Nation That Understands and Treats Addiction Like Any Other Chronic Disease. Because our Vision is actionable, we believe now more than ever that, not only is it achievable, it is inevitable. Join the Movement!