The Idiocy of a Diabetes Civil War

Ever since this article came out concerning what I can legitimately see outsiders calling “the diabetes civil war” in the blogosphere, there has been some discussion. This post was originally a comment on Renate’s post at The Diabetic Duo. Renate is the mother of two type 1’s.

The article basically talks about people who want a new name for the disease, people who get angry and frustrated at assumptions that they have type 2 diabetes or can treat their type 1 like it’s type 2 diabetes, and the frustrations of both types of diabetes.

Stereotypes of type 2’s hurt type 2’s too. And while I get frustrated living with the comments I receive, especially being an overweight type 1, I wouldn’t want to live with type 2 either. It’s not an “either, or” it’s a “we’re all in this together.” I enjoy talking to type 2’s about their management. My favorite thing is when they ask me about taking insulin, and I am able to share with them the freedom insulin therapy brings!

In my opinion, the article doesn’t describe either type of diabetes very well. It does not use the terms “insulin resistance” “auto immune” or “beta cells” at all. That, from a scientific perspective, is frustrating because I feel as though they are misinforming their readers on important issues.

The fact is, people don’t care about curing type 1 until it affects them directly. I think that type 2 exposure is helping, somewhat. But people don’t talk about curing type 2, they talk about preventing obesity. They talk about starting programs in schools and they talk about taking personal responsibility for your health. Type 1 gets washed by the wayside. I have written before about “life like a type 2” for type 1’s. I try to think that way about myself sometimes. Yes, I can eat that, but I shouldn’t, no one should really eat a double cheeseburger with an extra large fries and a fried pie or giant milkshake for desert. Who’s that good for? A salad would be less likely to spike my blood sugar, and repeatedly choosing that salad would make my A1C better and lessen my chance for complications. The exact same thing applies to type 2’s. After Thanksgiving dinner, I went for a walk and I was only stuck in the 200’s for about an hour rather than all afternoon. It’s not typical type 1 behavior, but it works. We can learn from each other. Similar to the way I try to learn from type 2’s, type 2’s can learn from type 1’s.My good friend Bob is a type 2. He once told me that he pays attention to our type 1 talk in the D.O.C. sphere because, being that t2 is a degenerative disease, he knows he may be taking insulin, counting carbs, and fighting lows one day and he wants to know how to handle it now so he is ready for the shock.

As far as the name similarity goes, it bothers me from merely a scientific aspect. The disease is caused by different things and yet is treated as the same disease. Beyond that I am not concerned. I know how to defend myself from people who assume I have type 2 because I am overweight. I would never have animosity towards type 2 diabetes. Sometimes people in the DOC compare diabetes to AIDS. That’s an interesting comparison, because for so long people living with AIDS were seen as having done something wrong in order to contract the disease (and in many cases still are looked down upon). Type 2 is looked at similarly, only perhaps with less social stigma. I won’t get into that, but blaming someone for a disease they have even if it was manifested because of a destructive lifestyle is wrong and harms that person. There is no cure for AIDS, but with the correct medication, people who are HIV positive are living longer than ever. There is no cure for either type of diabetes, but if managed correctly, you can live with diabetes for a very long time.

The point is, we’re all in this together. I blog because I have type 1 diabetes, and if it means something to someone with type 1 diabetes, that’s great! I’m so glad. But I know that there are more people in the world living with type 2 diabetes, and certainly hope and pray that it means something to them as well.

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8 thoughts on “The Idiocy of a Diabetes Civil War

  1. Ronnie the poor diabetic

    Hey Sarah
    I agree with you wholeheartedly, to me as diabetic’s we all get a bad rep from the public, which in my piece, I blame the media, the biggest concern coming out of this is the fact that research dollars for a cure are being primarily pushed towards type 2 than type 1 and the argument being that if there was a name change then arguably type 1’s can evade the stigma of the self induced disease and therefore can have these dollars allocated accordingly.
    But we have much bigger problems that a mere name change would not solve maybe when diabetes was a typical disease (meaning type 1 was more juvenile onset and type 2 was adult onset) but things have changed completely, we have type 1’s getting diagnosed much later in life and type 2 at a younger age that its become a melting pot.
    Yet it takes private research dollars to ramp up the effort for a cure but the problem we are having is not that the dollars are not making it to type 1 research but that there is not enough dollars to go around, you never hear cancer patients complaining because when it comes to research dollars they raise almost 10 times as much compared to diabetes while cancer has 28 million globally compared to 300 million of diabetics.
    The reason we do not have enough funding is basically the stigma associated with diabetes being 1. a self inflicted disease and 2. easily curable.
    This notion is perpetuated by the media if only people knew the basic truths that diabetes is a disease that afflicts all not the super size me potato couch slotted individuals and that a cure does not constitute just a change in diet and exercise then the funding would be more forthcoming, which by the way does not guarantee a diabetes cure type 1 or type 2.
    The diabetes civil war does not exist but in some reporter’s mind looking to stir people up and sell newspapers

    Reply
  2. Bob P

    Many, many diseases have – or can have – a lifestyle component in their cause and development, and many more have lifestyle changes as a part of their successful treatment/management. But in our culture, obesity is seen as a great sin – even though the mechanisms are as yet poorly understood and the eat-less/exercise-more “treatment” RARELY has meaningful, lasting success. So T2 – whether obesity is relevant in a particular individual or not – is “bad” in a way that most other diseases are not. I’ve written a number of times that I think I understand the frustration of T1s having to deal with public ignorance – but I have frustrations too. I’m saddened when people choose to take their frustrations out on me.

    Thank you, Sarah, for continuing to address this issue

    Reply
    1. sajabla Post author

      I agree Bob, and it’s funny how we look on Obesity as this mortal sin and yet our socieity continues to spiral into a culture that promotes it – fast food, desk jobs, lack of public transportation in many places, rewarding employees with close parking spots, not to mention the cost of living healthy between gym memberships, excercise equipment, and the affordibility of heatlhy food. And yet we still veiw even those who are genetically dispositioned to the disease of obesity as doing something “wrong.” It is sickening, really.

      Reply
  3. Renata

    Hi Sarah,
    Thank you for commenting on my blog post! I agree that the article didn’t go far enough on the exlaination, however with regards to mainstream media, it was one of the best I had seen. Now that’s not saying much is it? I do think the D-OC (on average, not everyone but on average) tries to be sensitive to both T1 and T2’s. We get that even though the diseases are different the both are a huge battle that people face on a daily basis.

    Thanks again.

    Reply
  4. Kaitake

    Ooh that part about type 1 diabetics having done something wrong – a colleague of mine just this week told me disturbing story about his old boss where he used to work. Apparently he was a type 1 and a) he didn’t look after himself and b) he was liked by no one. So when he was found lying on his office floor in a high-coma, again, my colleague said he seriously considered walking out and leaving him “I knew he would die, but he was just such an a-hole that I’m sure others had thought the same thing. Serves him right for not looking after himself.” needless to say I reminded my colleague (loudly) that no matter what sort of person he was, he didn’t choose to have diabetes. It’s not his fault. I got the feeling from my colleague that he might only help me if i appear to be already taking care of myself. Reading your post has perhaps stirred up a bit of leftover anger!

    Reply
  5. Chris

    The term “civil war”, also seen in other recent articles, perplexes me. No good can come from describing the differences we have, in science and in opinion, as a Civil War.

    Fantastic post.

    Reply
  6. Lee Ann Thill

    While I appreciated some of the ideas at the article’s essence, and appreciate discussions that distinguish between types since most people don’t understand that, I agree that talking about T1 and T2 within a contentious framework is ultimately unproductive. I wouldn’t say I found it blatantly offensive, but there are more constructive ways to discuss t1 and T2 than that. Your discussion about it is nicely done, Sarah.

    I’ve not been very attentive lately, so I’d also like to tell you that I really like the redesign 🙂

    Reply
  7. Graham

    Hi I’m a 66 year old T2 diagnosed with a BMI of 21.8, I have always been active and never been overweight in my life. I am officially classed as a MONW “metabolically-obese normal-weight” diabetic, as we account for between 15 and 20% of all T2s we could possibly total more than the T1s Yet there is next to no research and very litte help available for us, I need to consume at least 3500 cals daily in an attempt to maintain my weight ( present BMI 20.9 ) luckily 3 years since diagnosis I’ve been able to keep things under control A1c 6.3 medication 1 x 500g metformin to help with the dreaded dawn phenomenon thanks to a Lowcarb/high fat diet.
    Please don’t marginalise T2s,the stereotype of being all fat lazy slobs is far from the truth.

    Graham

    Reply

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