Friday, May 18, 2012

What They Should Know

Post 5 for Diabetes Blog Week

Don't even get me started. The lack of education on this disease baffles me. I could go on and on. But for your sake, I'll try to focus. What should they know? The first thing I have to explain to just about everyone is that Type 1 and Type 2 are two very different diseases (yes, I know, despite the names).

Why does it bother me so that no one knows the difference? Well, here is a list of responses I have actually gotten from real people when they learn I have T1D:

"But you're so thin" (this was my nurse at the hospital the day I got diagnosed)

"But you have always been so active and fit"

"Just take care of your feet, that is the most important thing" (another nurse)

"But you don't seem to be overweight or anything" (the diabetes educator provided by my mail-in pharmacy)

"If you just eat grapes and be more active you can easily become a Type 2 instead" (um.... What?)

"I have another client who had Type 1 diabetes for years, but she really started working on her diet and now she is a Type 2" (this was an Aflac insurance rep--needless to say, he did not get my business)

"That's the bad kind right?"

"Oh, well, at least it's not the bad kind."

"Is that the good kind or the bad kind?"

First, let me just clarify one point. There is no good diabetes and bad diabetes. Why? Because there are no good diseases. I think we can all agree that diseases of any degree suck. Even Spider Man thought his spider-bite-inflicted-super-human-capabilities-disease sucked some of the time. So NO, Type 1 is not the good kind. Why don't you go talk to a Type 2 and ask them if that's the good kind.

What I usually tell these ill-informed people is this (actually, I am usually way too peeved to even continue the conversation):

I have Type 1. My immune system is attacking my beta cells--the cells in my pancreas that make insulin. Now my body cannot make enough insulin to process the carbohydrates I eat--yes all carbs, not just sugar. So I take insulin injections most every time I eat (plus one extra dose a day, but I usually don't get into that). Eventually my pancreas won't make any insulin at all. I can eat whatever I want as long as I take the right amount of insulin for it (but not eating whatever you want is an important step of really getting control of the disease). There is nothing I can do to rid myself of this disease because (as of now) there is no cure. I will never morph into a Type 2 (I guess if I started eating massive meals of pasta and donuts and pizza and shooting up massive amounts of insulin I could probably cause my body to develop insulin resistance, but I would still be a Type 1, too). Oh and by the way, you don't have to be fat to develop Type 2 (I have to throw that one in there for my T2D pals).

One thing that would solve all these problems? Change the name! We'll let the T2s keep the rights to "diabetes" (as so many late night infomercials have tricked the population into believing that "diabetes" is synonymous with "insulin resistance") and we shall change T1D to "Autoimmune Induced Glucose Intolerance."

No I do not have diabetes, I have AIGI disease.

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