You know “those days” with diabetes? I have been having a lot of them lately, including very bad highs and some lows, that could have left me cowering in the corner. If you have diabetes you may know what I mean. But they didn’t. You know why? Because this is the life I have been given. We all get some good and some bad stuff to deal with in life and it may seem sometimes like you got more than your fair share of bad, but the thing is, if you allow yourself to wallow in that for too long, it will kill all the good stuff.
I have lived with type 1 diabetes for 37 years. I have also spoken to thousands of people with problems in their lives since I started working as a social worker in 1989. Some of those with diabetes, some with other problems, but all with lots and lots of struggles. I have also had many of my own struggles including depression and anxiety, health problems which will never go away, fears and sadness and loss.
I have noticed over these years, that sometimes people seem to get so angry about a particular issue, that is really a diversion from their real pain, that they get off track and never really come to terms with the issue at hand, and so it lingers and makes it harder for them to get out from underneath that pain.
One such situation that has been driving me nuts lately, is the way that some people in the type 1 diabetes community (bearing in mind, of which I am one), spend an enormous amount of time and energy on putting down people with type 2 diabetes and getting on the bandwagon to change the names so we are not lumped in the same boat as “those type 2’s”.
Ok so here is my take. These are my personal opinions and I am open to debate, but will not engage in any nasty or disrespectful comments.
1) I agree that there is a lot of misinformation out there about type 1 diabetes and we need to stand up and educate the public and the media. No question. Education is the key to understanding and acceptance and we all experience ignorance every day, like the taxi driver who said to me, “Oh diabetes just means you can’t have alcohol, yeah?”
2) I have argued and advocated for the use of the words type 1 and type 2 where appropriate, many times, including in this article. However I don’t believe a name change overall is that important. I feel that happier, healthier people with all types of diabetes is far more important and worth shouting about, and we should channel our energy into better management choices and services.
3) Type 1 and type 2 diabetes are different, but also similar in that we all have varying degrees of dud pancreases. Sure they have different causes and management, but they have similar impacts on our bodies. I guess it is a bit like the word “cancer” which gets used as an over arching term, and then split into the various types. We all have diabetes, and then some of us have different types. In some instances these need to be specified, like when talking about diet and lifestyle and obesity contributing to type 2 diabetes, or when saying that people with type 1 diabetes must inject insulin for life. However, on other occasions it is perfectly acceptable to simply use the term “diabetes”.
4) We should stand together, not divided, for it is in numbers that we have the loudest voices.
5) We should be kind to each other and not toss away, belittle or hate anyone, let alone another person who has diabetes, of any type.
I have worked long and hard, often without funds, to support many thousands of people with diabetes and their families, as have my team and volunteers. It breaks my heart when I see parents of people with type 1 and those with type 1 diabetes themselves tying themselves in knots and blowing off steam about the name change and the way we are sooooo different to those type 2’s, when perhaps the real problems they are facing is the bloody terrible, awful, forever way that type 1 diabetes affects your life. Start to deal with that stuff and maybe the rest of it won’t be so important anymore. Now that is really something to shout about.
United we stand.