My thoughts on the Oprah Diabetes episode

I recorded the episode Oprah aired on 2-4-10 she dedicated to diabetes. I was all prepared to be angry at Oprah and Dr. Oz for not spending more time talking about type 1 diabetes. I have already spent a long time being angry about such terms as “epidemic” “preventable” and “weight loss” when referred to diabetes when they are actually focused on type 2. I spent 14 years diagnoses (incorrectly) as a type 2 diabetic. I used to get soooo angry at all of those catch phases, because I knew my diabetes was genetic–I’m not the only diabetic in my family. I looked at support groups in the area, they were crowded with overweight type 2 diabetics. I started to get even more angry when my diagnosis was changed to T1, yes it was a relief to have the correct medication and health care, but I still wasn’t getting the verbal cues I needed. I found support on the site tudiabetes and with a group of type 1 bloggers I follow on twitter, besides that it’s a pretty isolated experience.

So, why did I not get angry with Oprah’s show? There are lots of reasons why I should be angry. They spent maybe 15 seconds explaining type 1 diabetes, from that point forward they just referred to “type 2 diabetes” as “diabetes”. This bothers me because in peoples minds they are the same disease. Dr. Oz’s estimate that 10% are type 1, seemed really low based on numbers I have seen. His interview with the woman in the hospital was very touching, but she is a 30+ year type 1 diabetic patient, sure the outcome can be the same for type 2’s, but I think it was just for shock value. There are countless other points that ignored type 1, I should be furious, but I’m not.

Sound I be mad at Dr. Oz? No, he’s a cardiologist, not an endocrinologist. I’ve have internists and GPs who didn’t know as much about diabetes as Dr. Oz.

I’m not mad at Oprah because it is the same path I’ve gone down for years, and much longer for many others. The focus in recent years has been on type 2. Is that fair? No! We, the type 1’s in the U.S. are shouting for help and recognition of this disease. We will be diabetic not matter what lifestyle changes we make. I’m not mad at Oprah because the show was correct, there are way too many people with type 2, especially since many it can be prevented. If people will get off their butts and take care of themselves type 2 diabetes wouldn’t be in the news, it would be something your 80 year old grandmother would get.

How can/should we be telling the world about diabetes, type 1, type 2, and LADA. Maybe we could convince Oprah to do a show about type 1 and LADA, or even a segment to really explain the differences. Diabetes needs rebranding! Look at all of the pink stuff on the shelves! How many times a day do you see a pink ribbon? That little blue circle used for World Diabetes Day should be everywhere, and on everything, being supported by millions of dollars to bring awareness, support, and a cure.

Maybe Oprah could be our champion. Oprah will you wear our little blue circle? Will you help?

If people with type 2 diabetes want to get really mad, they should be aware of federal spending on prevention. And because people with type 1 do share some concerns about the difficulties of keeping blood sugar, blood pressure, and blood lipids on target to prevent or minimize complications, this info is important, too:

Diabetes (all types) 23.8 million
Cancer (all sites) 11.4 million
Heart attack 16.8 million
HIV 1.05 million
AIDS 1.1 million

Diabetes 1.6 million
Cancer 1.5 million
Heart attack 1.45 million
HIV 56,300
AIDS 37,000

Centers for Diseae Control Spending on Prevention FY09
HIV/AIDS $691.9 million
STDs $340.3 million
Tuberculosis $152.3 million
Tobacco $143.9 million
Diabetees $106.2 million
(source: FY2010 Congressional Justification, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

There is a good discussion over on Diabetic Connect as well

I agree with you that more time should have been spent on all Types of diabetics and telling of their stories and struggles. I also agree Kelly that more money needs to be spent on research for every type of diabetic.

The only comment that bothered me in your post Jeannene was the following:

“I’m not mad at Oprah because the show was correct, there are way too many people with type 2, especially since many it can be prevented. If people will get off their butts and take care of themselves type 2 diabetes wouldn’t be in the news, it would be something your 80 year old grandmother would get.”

I would direct you to Jenny Ruhls site:

As a Type 2 I sometimes dont feel all that welcome on TU and the inadvertent underlying hostility towards me because I am a Type 2. Each of our stories as Type 2’s are different and the Oprah’s show did a poor job of telling that. Many of the Type 2’s are not even properly diagnosed by a prejudiced medical system.

We walk different paths but if we do have a common cause as Manny says so well in his video.

Jeanne and others, I am one of those Type II people who get really upset with type I’s who can’t or don’t or won’t try and understand that we are more alike than different. If a cure is found, it could be, might be that is helps find a cure for ALL of us. I am sick and tired of being sick and tired and pointed out that you have it so difficult being a type I, and type II’s are so easily “fixed”. What the hell? Being overweight it NOT a cure to type II diabetes, it helps everyone to get off their butt, and move a little. I have many friends and diabetic acquaintances who are at their ideal weight (never been heavy) and still have diabetes. How do you figure that they are overweight and that’s the reason for their getting this disease? There are also runners, atheletes who are very fit, were never unfit, and are type II’s. and type I’s. So what’s the deal. You want TU to be for type i’s and that’s it? Again I’m beginning to think that that’s what is going to happen. I’m not going to fight with you about it, it’s not worth it to me. But you are being just a little prejudice and lumping people together in groups that are non-existent. Type I’s can teach type II’s much about life, as type II’s can teach type I’s. It’s about acceptance and tolerance. Either we are together in the fight for a cure, or we are lost. Just my opinion, of course.

Might want to look into doing something about all that anger…its not good for your health.

Cathy it sounds like your just as frustrated with this as I am. Keep in mind I spent years seeing doctor after doctor that looked at my test results, told me I wasn’t doing enough and handed me another prescription that gave me horrible side effects and did nothing to help me. I will take this opportunity to say that in my opinion type 1 and type 2 diabetes are VERY different diseases they only manifest themselves with the same side effects. If your a type 2 then your insulin doesn’t work correctly. As type 1 I don’t make any insulin, my body decided that my pancreas was the enemy and killed it.

The problem is actually a climate created within the medical field, they don’t really understand diabetes, they are frustrated and take it out their frustration on the patients (this comment is straight from my new endocrinologist) it’s not our fault, but they (the medical community) make us feel that way. I apologize for offending you, but please hear me out. The only attention diabetes is getting right now on any public scale is about type 2, and yes much of the information is wrong. Your right we do need to stand together to help people understand the differences, and find a cure. In order to fight this, the disease needs a new face, a new voice, and some new energy; it needs money, research, and education.

I agree with Janaye, and with Cathy, and with Pauly… And I find myself incredibly frustrated by your post, and the posts of so many Type 1’s on this site. At the risk of brining all fire and brimstone raining down on me, I find many Type 1’s to be just as ignorant about Type 2, as the general non-diabetic population, and the misinformed people doing shows on tv. Type 2 Diabetes is not always preventable. Stuff happens… and many times, weight gain is just a side effect of those things. With the high incidence of Diabetes in my family, I don’t think I could’ve prevented any of it… especially, since my Thyroid doesn’t work, and I have PCOS. You need to take a good, hard look, at yourself… and deal with your anger, and your prejudices. This kind of attitude does not help anyone, and only victimizes more people who are dealing with a disease that came, despite their diet. I probably eat less calories in one day, than most people do in an hour… and I still got Type 2 Diabetes. I am sorry, but I am not going to start feeling bad to make anyone else feel better about themselves, because they have the ‘acceptable’ type of Diabetes. My father was a thin man, and he had Type 2 Diabetes… and yes, he had a good diet, and exercised a lot, and still ended up getting all the complications, and dying from this disease. No amount of misinformation about ‘curing’ or ‘preventing’ Type 2 is going to bring him back to life. If we can’t get support from each other, as Diabetics (which we all are, and the basic things are the same… a poor functioning, or non functioning pancreas, complications, and high blood sugars)… where the hell are we supposed to get it from? It’s not fair, and not nice.

So much anger and negative energy spent about something that isn’t unique to diabetes. Here’s something to think about that might help some of us to move out of this negative and self-defeating mindset…

If you or someone close to you did not have bi-polar disorder (or insert any disorder here) and you read about someone or you met someone who will never be more than a casual acquaintance who is bi-polar who’s life is a mess because of it, would you take the time to learn about this common disorder or would you continue on with your very full life. I can tell you that there are many, many things out there that I am not going to take the time to learn about just because there are a lot of people that have “Pick your disorder”. For those of you who know nothing about bi-polar disorder…G_D bless you and I hope you never need to…just know there is a lot of bias against people with chemical imbalances that cause mental illness.

At best it is naive and at worst extremely self-centered to expect the general population to learn the nuances of a disorder or disease that (G_D willing) will never touch their life…just because I or someone I love has it.

One thing I like to point out when it comes to the media (disclaimer: I’m one of them) and diabetes: it’s simply all
the news that fits.

I WISH that the media would be precise, would label diabetes as type 1 or type 2 or gestational or … and spend the long column inches and long minutes to do a deep dive into some VERY complicated chronic conditions,
but when a writer and an editor are trying to copyfit a story or edit a34w2143lk (sorry, my cat just walked over my keyboard) a video, things get shortened. It’s much easier to use the generic term “diabetes” than it is to take the time or the effort to be precise. And because right now some people can prevent or delay type 2 and it so prevalent, but no one can prevent or delay type 1 and it is much less common (even including LADA), type 2 is the big topic of discussion and the big public health crisis.

I used to get more mad than I do now about general public awareness of diabetes and misunderstandings about type 1 and type 2. But then, after spending time on tudiabetes, I realized I, too, have preconceived notions and prejudices, even about the type of diabetes I live with. And I realized that anyone who is worried about blood sugars–whether because of insulin resistance or no beta cells–can teach me and help me and be my friend.

Publicity of any sort–even incorrect publicity–is better than none. Because having the topic of diabetes in public dialogue lets us take the time to try and set the record straight. A little knowledge can be dangerous, but I’ll take it over no knowledge at all!