Recent focus groups organized by the American Diabetes Association asked participants to rank diseases according to their seriousness. Heart disease and cancer were consistently ranked at the top of the list. Diabetes usually fell in the middle of the scale. But doctors and the diabetes association say the disease is much more life-threatening and life-altering - than is generally thought. Some quick facts from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control National Diabetes Fact Sheet in 2007:<br>
<li>23.6 million people have diabetes in the U.S. Of that number, approximately 5.7 million people are underdiagnosed.</li>
<li>In 2007, 1.6 million new cases of diabetes were reported in people aged 20 or over.</li>
<li>Diabetes is estimated to $174 billion annually - $116 billion in direct medical costs and $58 billion in indirect costs (disability, work loss, premature death).</li>
</ul> This week on Florida Matters, we'll talk about diabetes, and we'll explore what it's like to live with the disease.
Eugene Hairston and Sandy Dupasquier
Eugene Hairston was born in Portsmouth, Virginia in a neighborhood dubbed Little Vietnam. After a challenging upbringing and a few run-ins with the law, Eugene saw enlisting in the Army as a way out. In 1968 at the age of 18 Eugene was right at the edge of the conflict as a radio dispatcher. On returning to the states, he relocated to Florida to escape a growing substance abuse problem and the horrors of war. Eugene opens the story by recalling his first memories when arriving in Vietnam and recounts his journey afterwards.