Transcription of the audio from the video
In recent times, emotions in our community have been stirred up. Very strong expressions from “across the aisle” that appears to divide type 1 and type 2 diabetes have come up.
It is a fact: type 1 and type 2 are different conditions and there are even more types of diabetes. All have their things that make them unique and more challenging for some people and perhaps not as challenging for others. There are those with splendid A1Cs among people with type 1 and type 2 alike and then there are those that struggle controlling their blood sugar levels in all groups.
To those who have grown up with type 1 diabetes:
As a kid you certainly had to live through things that children without diabetes don’t have to worry about. As an adult with type 1 (like those with LADA), you ALSO face the very real short term risk of DKA, the fear of going low in your sleep and the concern of running out of insulin, among other daily challenges.
To those who live with type 2 diabetes:
You have come to experience life with diabetes at a later age. The negative stigma from the media, the finger of blame putting the burden of guilt on your shoulders possibly keeps you from talking to others about your diabetes. It is a well documented fact that you can help keep your blood sugars in check largely through diet and exercise. Yet, we all know that changing our lifestyle can be one of the hardest things to do for an adult and it is sometimes not enough.
These are different challenges and concerns, different outlooks and different ways to live. And they differ even more depending on what country you live in: the reality of people with diabetes of all types in terms of availability of treatment and education can be dramatically different outside of the developed world. But at the end of the day, regardless of your type of diabetes, whether you live in the US or the Philippines, we are ALL trying to keep our glucose levels within the normal range. Because not doing so will have an impact on our lives sooner or later, preventing us from living a full life with full bodies until our times should come.
There are SO many things being discovered every day about all types of diabetes. Yet, there is SO much to be learned. For example, new genes are being found to be connected with type 2 diabetes and there is growing evidence that insulin resistance causes weight gain and not the other way around.
What if the way we have been informed about type 2 diabetes all this time were wrong? What if our assumptions about what life with type 1 diabetes is like make us fear insulin-based therapy when it could be a way to improve our control? Would it make things different? I don’t know… but this is just a way to say, what we think we know doesn’t give us the right to do some of the things that have been said about the “other” group in the community.
Does this mean we should avoid discussion? By no means. It means to make a conscious effort to LISTEN. It means to accept that others will have a different point of view. It means to respect each other so we may find common ground. And it means to learn from each other and to help one another as much as we can. Why? Because at the end of the day, we REALLY are all in this together, far more than you would tend to think.
We all joined the community for different reasons: some came looking for general information about diabetes or to learn about something specific. Others came for support or even as a way to come out of the “closet” where they’d been for many years, not talking about their condition. The truth is that we are ALL touched by diabetes, including those around us, our family, friends and caregivers.
So what do I suggest we do?
On one side, we all know that the vast majority of patients have type 2 diabetes. Yet most of the activism and awareness raising comes from people with type 1 diabetes. ALL of you with type 2 diabetes: I invite you change this! Learn even more about your diabetes (sign up for a class with diabetes educator, pick up a book -I recommend Jenny Ruhl’s Blood Sugar 101 and Gretchen Becker’s The First Year Type 2 Diabetes), start a blog about your life with diabetes (on TuDiabetes or anywhere else you want), talk to people in your local community about it, when you read an article that misinforms people write to the journalist, contact the editor; organize activities for World Diabetes Day (there is a group you can join for this in TuDiabetes)… in short, get active and help make noise and raise awareness about diabetes.
On the other side, members with type 1 diabetes typically have lived with it for a longer time. And due to the requirements imposed by insulin-based treatment, on average people with type 1 diabetes are almost forced to be better educated about diabetes than people with type 2 diabetes (not always, I know, but often).
What if those who have accomplished better control of their diabetes through educating themselves more about it (type 1 and type 2, alike) focus part of their time in the community helping others become better educated about their diabetes? It can be done in a way that is non-invasive yet very helpful. Look around the nearly 10,000 members in the community, find someone who has joined recently or someone who hasn’t been too active. Become friends with them: introduce yourself, tell them a little bit about you and ask them how you can help. Offer to be there and be ready to be surprised: not only will you be able to make a difference in their lives and their health but you will likely learn from others in the process.
You can participate in the discussion titled “Contemplate, Relate, Educate - share your perspective!” started by MelissaBL and now featured in our Forum. We will be pulling from both places to compile everyone’s contributions.
Last, I invite you to read the blog I link to from beneath this video. It is titled “The Four Agreements”. These are four principles that will come in handy as we walk through the coming times, trying to find and foster the things we share, while we acknowledge and respect those things that make us different.