A spotlight on Senior Editor Jim Hirsch
So Jim Hirsch and I were talking. You know Jim. A former reporter for The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, he has written five books, most recently the best-selling Willie Mays: The Life, the Legend. He also wrote the remarkable Cheating Destiny, the chronicle of his life with type 1 diabetes and that of his son Garrett. He’s also written over 20 Logbook columns for diaTribe since 2006, including this issue’s riveting tale about a young platoon sergeant in Vietnam whose survival story rivals any in the history of diabetes (diaTribe managing editor Ben Kozak, diaTribe columnist Kerri Sparling, and I all heard Urban Miyares speak at TCOYD in Providence earlier this fall). Other favorite Logbooks are “How a New York Peep Show Saved a Young Writer,” “The Scorekeeper’s Daughter,” and “The Midnight Hour.” Jim has been our senior editor for as long as I can remember. I am truly lucky to know him.
So we were talking. I was asking him if he had any overriding feeling about World Diabetes Day, which of course happens this Sunday.
What he said to me really resonated. He said that his feelings center on how much diabetes has changed as a topic of open conversation, even celebration. For much of the history of the disease, he said, the subject was hidden. Patients and their families would go to extraordinary lengths to ensure that no one knew they had diabetes. Living behind a curtain of shame, many people with diabetes wouldn’t tell their friends, co-workers, or teachers. Some diabetic adults wouldn’t even tell their children. Lee Iacocca, whose wife died from this disease, once told Jim that back in the 1950s and ‘60s, diabetic autoworkers were considered “lepers.”
In other words, the most important part of World Diabetes Day is that there even is one. It stands as a glorious repudiation of this ailment’s sordid history and a sure sign of progress. However else you are feeling about diabetes today, that progress should be remembered and revered. Now and forever, the curtain has been lifted.
Happy World Diabetes Day indeed.