Sunday, June 7, 2009

What's Fair...

Sometimes writing a blog can be as educational as reading one. For instance, while doing research for this post, I discovered that the first recorded case of diabetes dates back to 1552 BC! Egyptian physician Hesy-Ra had no idea what was causing his patient's ailment, but was aware enough to note "frequent urination" as one of the illness's symptoms.
Of course, even knowing there was such a disease did little in the way of aiding treatment [the timeline linked to above notes that one 19th Century practitioner recommended a diet laden with sugar as therapeutic, while others suggested oatmeal, milk, rice, and even potato diets as helpful!].

Until the 20th Century, diabetes was rightly looked upon as a death sentence. Indeed, in one of the Sherlock Holmes mystery stories [written by Doctor Arthur Conan Doyle], Holmes chooses not to turn a murderer over to the police because, among other reasons, he was a diabetic, and likely to die soon.

The modern era of diabetes treatment began in 1921, when a team at the University of Toronto, led by Dr. F. G. Banting, first isolated insulin. Around 30 years later, oral medications were added to the arsenal of treatment. Research has continued on new treatments and, although diabetes is still incurable, it can be controlled by a combination of diet, exercise and, as needed, medication.

And yet...

And yet, diabetics can still face bias in their careers and everyday lives. Take Sonia Sotomayor, US President Barack Obama's candidate for the Supreme Court. Among other firsts, Sotamayor would, if confirmed by the Senate, become not only the first person of Hispanic ethnicity to serve on the High Court, but the first diabetic [given the age and health histories of some of the previous Justices, I have my doubts on that last point. But she would definitely be the first openly diabetic member]. While her selection has been welcomed in the diabetic community, some concerns have been raised. The argument says that, while Sotomayor seems to be in good health right now, complications arising from diabetes, as well as the on-going progression of diabetes itself, could leave her unable to serve an extended term on the Court [in the US, Supreme Court justices are appointed for life: in practice, however, the Court's members can and do resign when their health makes it impossible to serve]. Politics, of course, enters into the discussion [when doesn't it?]: Sotomayor is perceived as a moderate-to-liberal-leaning judge, based on her previous rulings, and those who agree with her decisions want to ensure that a Justice with that mindset serves as long as possible. Those who disagree with her previous rulings hope that, if she is turned down for the Court, the next candidate offered may be closer to their beliefs.
I am not an expert in law, or politics, or a lot of other things, for that matter. But I do see what goes on in the world, and I believe I can make observations based on what I've seen. I do not believe that anyone can predict the future. You can report statistics, make "educated guesses", or even just throw an idea out for consideration [the Criswell Predicts method]. Yes, Ms. Sotamayor may live a shorter life than other Hispanic women in similar health, but not diabetic. Then again, it is an unarguable fact, based on statistics, that women live, on average, five years longer than men. If another person became the Court nominee, that person could live a longer life than Sotomayor. Or they could be run over by a bus three months into their term. The point is, no one can predict the future. If opponents of Sotomayor base their arguments on opposition to her previous rulings, I respect their opinions, as I hope they would respect mine. But opposing her because of her state of health, or worse, using a health issue to cover other points of disagreement, is nothing more than a bias-laden ploy that should be naturally abhorrent to any fair-minded person. I hope things don't end up coming down to this.
-Mike Riley


Cactus Jack Splash said...

When my boss found out I was a diabetic he was a bit taken aback, I have been running a high school of "naughty kids" and dealing with fights for several years. He didn't know diabetics could be like normal people...go figure

Cactus Jack Splash said...

Good afternoon!
You have won an award, go to my blog tomorrow morning to pick it up

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