I wasn't allowed to see it as a kid. And I'm a Southern California beach brat. Now I know why I was able to windsurf, sail, and lifeguard with no fear. Then I got married to a man who grew up on the JAWS trilogy, and now all the "don't you worry about sharks?" comments I grew up around from inland friends, make sense.
Sharks are obvious predators, and the damage they cause is undeniable and life-threatening. It's something we reckon.
Could you imagine the same fear-induced awareness over Type 1 diabetes? 80 people a day are diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. But no one sees it or fears it until it strikes them... The United States averages just 16 shark attacks each year and slightly less than one shark-attack fatality every two years. Meanwhile, in the coastal U.S. states alone, lightning strikes and kills more than 41 people each year. TYPE 1 beats out lightening and sharks. But it's invisible. Click here for shark source sited and more facts
Was there any GAIN to the JAWS films? Yes, as I'm listening here, the film goes on to explain the boost in Marine Biology and study of sea life. A guy I know, works with dolphins who patrol the San Diego coastline and search for mines. What animals can do is fantastic, but you probably know already from visiting this blog on diabetic alert dogs (DADs). This film then also goes on to the disservice the film created.
What did I know about "invisible disease" before Type 1 that is close enough to compare? Nothing...it's in a class of its own. But my mom has lupus, and from 40-60 years old it was undiagnosed. Lupus is the sister-disease to Type 1 diabetes. She was not able to help easily with my kids when they were babies, and I'd frequently hear "I'm not doing so good." But I never understood it. Five or so years into it, I saw my mom on one of her bad days. I was lost seeing her pain, and barely recognized her. We always went for dinner once a month, when invited to her house; but now I realize it was when SHE could do it. My mom loves my family and always welcomes us. But I tell you, it wasn't until 30, as I struggled with my own diagnosis, that I truly "got it."
People would say, "You look good." Isn't that the determination of illness....how it looks? Sigh*
I had many months in a wheelchair, and later a walker. I didn't drive for nearly one year. My central nervous system is damaged permanently. And tho I currently don't use "obvious tools" to assist me, I struggle with standing and walking.
Before I got sick, I was always curious why women, waiting in a significantly LONG bathroom line, felt at liberty to use the handicap stall. Inevitably, someone wheeling in would need it, and have to wait.
That really isn't fair, is it?
(Are those who "walk in" wiith an invisible illness too? Chances are they just don't want to WAIT...)
There is no one to regulate who gets vests, who provides them, nor how dogs are "certified" (which isn't even necessary). I applaud groups that set standards for themselves. They will be first in line and recognized the day the United States government gets involved.
So let's do it! Yea?
It's not that easy. We do not have a solid answer on what diabetic alert dogs smell. It cannot be "bottled and sold." Read this Blog on research here.
Until that happens, we got nothin'. Done and done. So what do we do in the meantime?
We look at ADA which is federal law and provided by our government. ADA doesn't require anything more than a clean, well groomed and well behaved service dog (that is task-oriented to the need of it's handler). No vest, no "license"; you must register your dog with the county, as you would your pet. That's it.
The more we require of ourselves in obvious tools, the easier it is for fakers to copy. Can our dogs be just as invisible as our disease? I dare us to try.
More resource links to ADA law and info on types of service dogs:
Why do YOU need a service dog? How to answer a conflict...
Top 3 types of service dogs you may see...
Is your DAD a "seeing eye" dog? (Yikes)