Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Diabetes Misconceptions

Reading through the posts on #IWishPeopleKnewThatDiabetes, posted by the wonderful @diabetesalish, I realized that some of the things that bug people the most about what others know about Diabetes, are things we people with Diabetes (PWDs) know as a matter of course. I forget sometimes that not everyone knows that we stab ourselves in the fingers numerous times every.single.day. Not everyone knows that many PWDs can't afford the medicine they need to live, or do without things others find casual in order to afford it, like movies, lunch out, new clothes, etc.

In some way, I can excuse that. If you're not living with something in your own house, you can get away without knowing about it. However, do not make random comments about it either!

To the point, there are several common misconceptions the general public has related to Diabetes. I'd like to address them, and ask those who were previously unaware to think before they speak on these topics.

Misconception #1:     Only kids get Type 1 Diabetes!

      Per JDRF: 
      Around 50% of the people diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes today are adults 1!
           That's half kids, half adults people!!

The corollary to this is that adults are the ones with Type 2 Diabetes.  Given the long standing Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) alternate description as Juvenile Diabetes, it's understandable where this came from. Things change as people are living longer and longer with T1D.  I've had it over 44 years. I know at least three people over 50 years with T1D, and Joslin Clinic gives out medals to people who have lived with Diabetes for 25, 50, 75 and 80 years.

If you do the math from above. you'll understand the following:

     The [p]ercentage of people in the U.S. living with T1D who are adults: 85%.1

#2: People with Diabetes get it because they are fat and/or ate too much sugar!

This is a common myth aimed directly at Type 2 people with diabetes.
First we have to address what Diabetes is - at least for the two I'm talking about.

     Type 1 Diabetes:
          Per Mayo Clinic:
              [T]he body's own immune system ... destroys the insulin-producing (islet) cells in the pancreas.2

     Type 2 Diabetes:
          Per Mayo Clinic:
               Type 2 diabetes develops when the body becomes resistant to insulin or when the pancreas stops producing enough insulin.3

OK - I didn't see "Develops because of being fat" or "because of eating sugar" up there.Did you??

Commonly overlooked, there is a genetic component to Type 2 diabetes.Yes, being overweight is a risk factor, but without the genetic part, it's not going to happen. Did I mention I know at least one Type 2 average weight young person?

#3: There is a BAD kind of Diabetes.

    Will someone please show me the good kind???

    NEWSFLASH - ALL kinds of Diabetes are bad!!!  

They all require careful balance of activity and food.

Most require medication - many of these medications have unpleasant after-effects that lower the quality of life.

How about that - Some Type 2 medications that are required to stay healthy and alive, are extremely unpleasant to use!


All kinds of Diabetes, when mismanaged, can cause extreme complications including blindness, amputation and death. And we all live with it, every day, for the rest of our lives, knowing that if we falter in our attention to food, medicine, activity, general health, cuts and scrapes, vision, etc. we risk a greatly altered future. Even then, genetics play a role, with many people with diabetes suffering from multiple auto-immune issues which greatly impact the ability to keep that all balanced.

All we ask is, before you make a generalization, before you criticize, before you ass(u)me - Live a day in our lives and try to understand what we struggle with for the rest of our lives.

Authors Note: Diabetes, Type 1 or 2 or 1.5, etc - are NOT curable at this time in history. Comments relating to cures will not be approved for posting.

1 comment: