I Am What Diabetes Looks Like… And So Are You
Type 2 diabetes. We are the most talked about form of diabetes… But we are arguably one of the least understood forms of diabetes. We may not be the least known form of diabetes, but we are certainly the type with the most amount of misinformation out there. And it’s easy to see why. It wasn’t that long ago (30 years or so) that science thought diabetes was caused by eating too much sugar, and thus, avoiding sugar was the conventional wisdom. Things like ‘counting carbohydrates’ are the stuff of modern medicine. Now, the new ‘wisdom’ is that being obese and sedentary are the causes of diabetes – at the exclusion of course, of all the thin people getting type 2 diabetes and all the other myriad of triggers for the condition. (A trigger is not the same thing as a cause… Correlation does not equal causation, and all that good wisdom any good student of statistics may tell you.) Of course, while there is some serious correlation to consider, the truth is not as simply deduced.
But that won’t stop the people who want to create controversies. They’ll say my objections are ‘rare occurrences,’ and ‘not the norm.’ Outliers. Of course, this is not exactly true… But folks have never let the facts get in the way of a good argument.
You see… it’s EASY to hate on people with type 2 diabetes – they seem to be everything we hate about ourselves. The people who failed at their diet, the people who failed at their gym routine, the people who let themselves ‘go,’ or the people who failed at losing that weight… We see our OWN traumas on those who are living and struggling with type 2 diabetes. The things at which *we* ourselves have failed. And the rampant misinformation does not help any of this. And when the misinformation comes from another medical professional, it even empowers those who bully persons with type 2 diabetes to keep up the pace! And who can correct a medical professional? It’s not easy! This leads to grief, shame, and often tensions within communities of patients with different types of diabetes, because they get bullied, too. You see, the general public – they don’t know any better. They don’t know about different types, or triggers: often even some doctors don’t understand this as well. How could the media or the general population be expected to understand? It falls on the shoulders of us – the advocates – the patient experience.
So, while we may be the largest group of people with diabetes, we are the most marginalized ones, and the ones with the least amount of medicines, tools, and access to services given to us. We are often accused of ‘choosing’ diabetes because we didn’t lead a healthy enough lifestyle, of ‘being lazy’ and not curing ourselves of our condition, of not deserving a cure “because we can reverse it anyway, so why bother,” and often end up being excluded from various awareness and fund raising events in the diabetes community… and even denied things like glucose testing strips by insurance companies, or *gasp,* diabetes education classes!
People tend to get defensive around the subject, too… “Just so you know, I am type this, and not type that… Those are those OTHER types of people who brought it on themselves,” is a common mantra from some folks. “Mine was not caused by lifestyle, those are those other types” they may demand with disgust… sometimes, while being seriously overweight or obese themselves, to add insult to injury.
Obesity may not be the predominant trigger for all types of diabetes, but it is certainly THE predominant comorbidity in all of the most common forms of diabetes – yes, including type 1. When 63% of Americans are either overweight or obese, there is hardly much room for demanding WHY people with type 2 diabetes ‘failed’ at ‘preventing’ a diagnosis. Methinks thou dost protest too much. It’s time to wake up and smell the exogenous insulin: Excess weight is not just a type 2 diabetes problem!
So, while there is an enormous need for education regarding diabetes, including type-specific information… When it comes to World Diabetes Day, and Diabetes Awareness Month, I have NO type. We all suffer the after effects of misinformation, bullying, a lack of public acknowledgement because of a lack of empathy, a lack of services, and supplies, and yes, a struggle with other conditions like obesity, liver disease, cardiovascular disease, complications, etc.
Some of it is different, and some of it is so very much the same. So yes… You and I. We are what diabetes looks like. No matter the type.