One Monday per month, I’ll take a trip down memory lane and reflect on how much diabetes technology, education, and stigma has changed over the years. Remember when…
…”It’s Time to Learn About Diabetes” came out on VHS, with a workbook to accompany it?
Oh, the ’90s. What a time to be alive. Nickelodeon was in its prime, boy bands and Britney Spears were all the rage, and VHS tapes preceded DVDs and Blu-Rays as the way to watch movies. In 1995, one particular VHS tape conveniently debuted one year after my diagnosis that quickly became one of my most-watched tapes of that decade:
“It’s Time to Learn About Diabetes” told the tale of two fellow ’90s kids, Cindy and Mike. This 20 minute video walked viewers through diabetes basics and it couldn’t be more supremely cheesy. I’m certain that if I were to unearth the tape today (and a VCR to play it, to boot), I would cringe for the duration of it.
It’s been about 20 years (!!!) since I last watched the tape, but here’s what I remember about it: 1) mentions of NPH and regular; 2) the kids playing on a playground when one of them experiences a low blood sugar; 3) tacky illustrations of beta cells (I think that’s what they were, anyways); 4) 60-second meter countdowns; 5) zero inclusion of insulin pumps or CGMs, because they weren’t invented yet; 6) no explanation of the difference between T1D and T2D (for that matter, I don’t think T2 was mentioned at all); and 7) really bad you’re-about-to-learn-yay-for-education-in-the-’90s introductory music.
I’m really selling this tape here, huh? In all honesty, it wasn’t a bad way for me to really understand my diabetes at a young age. After all, how many other small children do you know that can tell you what the purpose of a pancreas is? It was a different way to present vital information I needed to know and clearly, it stuck with me pretty well.
I guess it just resonates more strongly than ever with me today because it’s a reminder of how much technology and the way information is presented has changed since my diagnosis. The Internet was still pretty new when I was diagnosed, and smartphones didn’t even exist yet. Just as phones and computers were bulky and slow in those days, so was the DTech at my disposal. 20 years later, though, information is readily available at our fingertips. It’s incredibly fast and detailed, and as technology evolves, it continues to become even more streamlined. In this way, I’m glad to have been exposed to the technology, both medical and otherwise, of the ’90s: because it makes me grateful for the incredible improvements we’ve experienced since then.