This was originally posted to my blog site, Diabetes Odyssey.
I’m sure most people who are or care about someone who is diabetic are aware of what has been going on with the Crossfit CEO’s uneducated statement about diabetes. I promised myself I wouldn’t write about it, and I am keeping that promise. The only reason I make a short mention of it here is because it is, for the most part, the way I came up with the idea to write down my thoughts on identity and the diabetic.
If you don’t know about the Crossfit CEO/diabetes fiasco, go ahead and look it up.
I have always been a stickler about telling people what type of diabetic I am. When I tell them I am diabetic, I say:
“I am type 1 diabetic.” Not, “I am diabetic.”
Why is it so important too make the distinction? For me it’s a number of reasons. Mainly it is an identity thing. Being diabetic means that diabetes (whichever type you have) is a huge part of your identity. Diabetes is in every part of your life, everything you do, every habit, every routine, every thought, every decision, everything has diabetes attached to it. It is not your entire identity, but it is a big part of it.
So, you don’t want people to make mistakes about your identity, about who you are. Someone thinking you, a type 1, are a type 2, or vice versa, is like them thinking your name (Tamra) is Tracey. It’s just not right because it’s not you.
There is also the distinction between types of diabetes and what they are. They have two different names because they are two different diseases. Mistaking a type 1 for a type 2, or vice versa, in a medical environment can become quite deadly. That is how different they are.
Type 1 and type 2 are both types of diabetes, but they are profoundly different when you get down to the nuts and bolts. So you can understand why a diabetic would want everyone to know exactly which type they have, and why most diabetics get all hot and bothered when all types are just lumped together under one vague, uneducated, misinformed title or definition.
Then you get to education. Most diabetics, no matter their type, know everything about all different types of diabetes. Beyond needing the information for their own health and well being, they need it to educate people about their type of diabetes.
I’m a type 1, but I know all about type 1 and type 2 because when I talk to non-diabetics they tend to only know about type 2 or the vague idea of what diabetes is, and even that information is totally misguided and outright wrong. So in order to spread the truth, I must be able to teach them about both type 1 and type 2.
It’s an identity thing, if a person doesn’t understand my type of diabetes, then they can’t truly know who I am.