Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Do We Have a Misconception About People With Type 2 Diabetes?



Some people with Type 1 Diabetes have some negative feelings toward those with Type 2. I used to be one of those people. 

Here’s where I think this resentment stems from. There is such a stigma surrounding Diabetes being a disease caused by desserts and gluttony. Because it is possible to acquire Type 2 Diabetes with a poor diet and obesity, people with Type 1 don’t want to be associated with that. Understandable. 

However, I recently had the opportunity to sit around a table with six Type 2s. The point of being there was to “relearn” diabetes management. This was a full day session, so we had a lot of time to chat. This is where I learned that the people with Type 2 Diabetes who are dependent on insulin are a lot more like us than we think. 

How did these specific people acquire Type 2? A couple of them were due to natural aging. One was due to poor diet. One had gestational diabetes, then was eventually diagnosed as Type 2. And one was just unlucky and had a large family history. 

We sat. We laughed about relatable things. We compared our methods of receiving insulin. Funny enough, they were all on insulin pumps, while I’m still using old school syringes. 

But most of all, I learned. I learned that people with Type 2 who are on insulin live lives that are almost just like ours. They deal with lows in the middle of the night. They have to choose between injections or a pump. They struggle to keep their BGs in range, just like we do. They get burnout. And if they stopped taking their insulin, they would die, just like we would. So why are some of us shaming them?

Now let’s go back to the group of people I did this session with. Do most of them sound like they did this to themselves? Maybe one? But even he was likely predisposed. Some people are naturally predisposed to obesity, it’s in their genes, and that will increase their risk. They didn’t do anything to cause it, and there’s nothing they could have done to stop it. And now because they are insulin dependent, they have a 24/7 job of keeping themselves alive. Sound familiar?

A lot of people want a name change for Type 1 due to the stigma attached to Type 2 diabetes. I admit, that I am one of those people. I think it would be beneficial to people with Type 1 to be separated from that stigma. 

However, I think that the stigma attached to Type 2 is so wrong. Yes, if you eat nothing but junk for years, you are putting yourself at more of a risk for developing Type 2. And it is true that it is the most common cause of it. However, there are so many other factors that don’t get talked about. One person can eat nothing but junk food their entire life and never develop diabetes. While another can spend their years watching what they eat and exercising, and develop diabetes. 

So who is this article directed toward? My fellow Type 1s. Let’s not have hostility toward those with Type 2. Diabetes affects some of their lives just as much as it impacts ours, and I hope you can see now that many of them did nothing to cause it. And even if they did, why shame them? I hope you can feel for them, because they have to deal with the stigma of people thinking they ate their way to this disease, when that’s not true for a group of them. So next time you encounter someone with Type 2, make sure to remember that you don’t know the circumstances that led to their diagnosis. Know that it isn’t all their fault that we have to deal with this stigma. And know that regardless of their circumstances, the stigma hurts them too. Every day. 

1 comment:

  1. Well presented and timely article Michelle - the only people living with diabetes that we really know how they "got it" are people with MODY and those who have had their pancreas removed. And there's no blame attached for them.
    As yet we have no cause and effect regarding diabetes, only some statistical observations.
    We of all people should not be joining in with the ill-informed.

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