The worst kind of Diabetes?

The worst kind of Diabetes?

Yesterday at the doctor’s office while I was waiting, a couple was engaged in what I thought to be a very odd discussion. The gentleman a man in his 70’s had recently been diagnosed with diabetes. The couple was discussing his diet, and debating one thing or another, including what to purchase at the grocery store. It was a discussion most couples have after diagnosis I am guessing and frankly it soundly like my wife and I discussing a new diet I have recently started.

In the midst of the discussion, the wife asked what kind of diabetes do you have? The man reported the doctor had told him a type 1 or 2 he did not remember. The wife said he needed to call the doctor when they left and find out because it made a big difference. “You know she said you do not want that killer diabetes”. He said no he did not think he had the “killer” kind because the doctor said “lose some weight and I will be cured”. It was an odd conversation and my personal diabetic radar started to kick in when the wife said “can you go around the grandkids, I do not want them catching it”?

Now I knew in my time in the waiting room I could have talked to the couple for a few years and never reach the heart of this matter. So I abstained and frankly it was well I did because no more had she uttered those words, then my name was called and I left. Just to be extra careful she did not catch that “killer diabetes” I walked around. Now it is true I missed a chance to educate and normally I push as a good place for information but in that time and place I abstained.

It is amazing how the ladies statement about catching the “killer” diabetes made me freeze. I suddenly felt unlike I have in years. You know mentally, I know of course this notion of catching diabetes is rubbish, let alone saying that type 1 is a killer disease. I suppose for a second I was stuck in an awful mindset that I had not felt in literally 35 years.

What I wanted to say is that diabetes is the “killer’ disease. It is not that type 1 or type 2 matters. We all come to the same place, namely management and if we do not manage well we have issues, how we get there matters little. One kind is not better than the other it is all management. I wish I had said those things, but I didn’t. It really bothered me the rest of the day.

Fast forward to this morning when I was listening to a crazy radio program, this one on tape delay. The host was speaking to a “health expert” and the subject of diabetes came up. I honestly forget what they were discussing, but the host said what the difference between type 1 and type 2 is? The expert said well Type 1 is the one with more complications, more problems, the one you don’t want to have. It was like a repeat of the discussion in the office.

Ok the fellow on the radio did not say Type 1 was a communicable disease but other than that it was pretty much a replay of the earlier of the discussion. So in the course of less than 12 hours I was hearing almost a repeat of the same conversation. Be it chance or coincidence I was confronted about the same feelings.

So to top it off the third or fourth caller on the program wanted reassurance from the expert about his daughter. It seems while living with her mother the girl was diagnosed as type 1. He reported she was now living with him and he stopped her form taking insulin. Saying he did not want her to be type 1. He was controlling her diabetes with diet. What diet the “expert” asked? None in particular just lots of good food, was the response. The “expert” reported that it sounded like he was doing a good job and to be sure to check her blood sugar and see a doctor. Both things seemed lost on the caller and he hung up a happy man. The caller was reassured he was doing the right thing. This time of course I had an excuse for not correcting the information the program was on tape delay and if I had called I would have gotten the perpetual busy signal.

All of this again reminds me of the awful burden we have to educate the public, even so called “experts”. I did not fulfill my part of the contract in the doctor’s office. I am not beating myself up about it but still I feel a little bad about it. I missed a chance and could have done better. It just gives me resolve to do more next time. I hope if a similar situation presents itself, we will all take the opportunity to tell people, there is no good or bad diabetes. Diabetes is not a communicable disease and while we might get to the disease from different paths, we all have the same concerns.

Perhaps someday this type of discussion will not occur. Perhaps someday even “experts” will not believe there is a “better” diabetes. I know a few months ago we had some folks who wanted to rename type 1 diabetes, to distinguish it from type 2. Nothing could have been more wrong. We do not need to distinguish them, we need to blend them if anything. Ultimately after all, the worst kind of diabetes, is the one you or your loved one has.



Rick, We can't save everyone. Strangers probably wouldn't listen to you anyway, so no guilt about not speaking out.

Some people think T2 is the "killer disease" because T2s start out probably having had high BG for decades before being Dx'd. Plus many are just told to "watch your sugar" or whatever and continue to have high BG. T1, on the other hand, starts with a clean slate and has to take the disease seriously to avoid DKA.

So do what you can to educate people, but don't carry the burden of educating everyone on your shoulders. It's enough to get that bolus injection right.

Hi Rick. I don't think you should feel at all guilty--people with long-held ideas don't change them easily. I know that in my own case starting to talk with strangers about Diabetes (or anything else!) would just result in those looks that say, Why is this crazy lady butting in?

Rick, I really enjoyed this blog post. I would have felt the same way as you, wanting to say something..wanting to distinguish and inform the couple and also the dad/daughter on the radio. As soon as I read the "killer" diabetes, my heart sank. It definitely is hard a hard pill to swallow to hear that the very disease that you deal with daily is a "killer". But, like you said, as long as we (type 1 and 2s) manage, and keep on truckin', it'll be a good life! :)

It really is nice to be a part of a community where people care as much as I do. You're the man, Rick!

I don't think guilt is warranted, though for different reasons than the other posters give. You didn't have the opportunity to "save everyone", you were only exposed to the two people present at that moment. And one abbreviated conversation with an apparent layman would have little hope of overriding the assurance they had just received from a medical "expert" in any event.

Anyway, you can't feel -- or not feel -- an emotion at will, just because someone advises you to. We don't operate that way. You felt what you felt in the moment. That's in the can and can't be changed.

What disturbs me infinitely more is this latest reminder (as if a reminder were needed) of the horrific amount of misinformation that is current and accepted as gospel "out there", and the incalculable number of lives that are damaged unnecessarily as a result. We've got to crack the education problem, somehow. Failure is not an option, with apologies to Gene Kranz.


uggggg…. the misinformation out there is mind boggling to me. Where did this misinformation begin? How do we stop it? How do we educate? Soon it is estimated that 1 in 3 will be diabetic (T1 and T2). Although they are different, the bottom line is it takes energy to mange both of them. While some T2 can cause their symptoms to disappear, others work just as diligently as T1 to gain control. I feel the world thinks that insulin is a cure…and most do not realize that is a treatment plan…just as chemotherapy is a treatment to cancer. Most have no idea what it takes to control the beast of insulin treatment. I am not sure what the answer is, other to try to educate the public. It saddens me that more research is not poured into a cure or a vaccine that could elevate this all together

Rick, one little thing you can do is perhaps bring some of our beautiful brochures with you to the doctors, ask if you can leave them in the waiting room, etc, and give one to someone who might benefit.
this post explains it a bit, Emily can get some mailed out to you.

Oh how glad I am that I just have diabetes and not that killer type LOL

+1, Pastelpainter! :)

The worst kind of diabetes is the kind you ignore.


Thanks for taking the time to write your great post and share your experience, Rick! It's useful for me to be reminded of how much misinformation is out there. Thank you!


Another awesome one, Rick!


Last year, Diabetes Hands Foundation generously gave me a grant to write and produce a show about diabetes to help dispel many of these myths. I have posted it on YouTube. You can watch the entire thing here: or you can watch it in 10-15 minute segments here:
Please watch and share. I poured my heart and soul, blood, sweat and tears into this project. Thank you so much DHF Seeds. for Part 4 (Do the Math, Insulin and Lab Mice)

I find it alarming how many people are started on Metformin and told it will prevent diabetes. No instructions on diet or exercise, just the prescription. These people then go on their merry ways without changing their lifestyles. Doctors actually are responsible for not giving the correct information.

Our Pediatric Endo told us at diagnosis that Type 1 is a completely different disease than Type 2, although both types have to control their glucose. They share the same name, but she said both types are distinctly different. I suppose what they mean by the "killer" type is Type 1s must use insulin, which can be more immediately dangerous, especially when dosing children. Complications are not necessarily life threatening and happen to both types. I believe Type 2s have the disadvantage there (or could have the disadvantage), depending on how long they had diabetes before being diagnosed. Also, I believe it is easier to bring blood sugars down if you are Type 1, because a lot of Type 1s are very sensitive to insulin. Type 2s have a serious problem in that sometimes the medications don't work, if dosing with insulin may need very high doses. You can easily see what a problem that is if you have ever given insulin during the teen years. Hormones interfere and you have to double the basals, even that may not bring blood sugars down easily. So, all in all, if given the choice, I would rather be a Type 1.

Jan, me too on everything you said. At least with type 1 we usually get a prompt Dx (not always a correct one - reference discussions about adults with rapid onset type 1) but we pay attention early on.

I cannot stand when someone makes stupid comments. I completely understand that people do not know the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 as before my son's diagnosis I did not either but when they say, "oooohh, that's the bad one". or "it must be bad". He is Type 1. I'm more than happy to explain it to them but when they have their own terminology such as "sugar diabetes" I could just scream! I would prefer that they ask questions over making stupid statements.

Lloyd, you just said what I was going to say. While you can't guarantee no complications, you can certainly minimize the risk with diligent care. And that goes for both T1 and T2.

The one that really scares me is the father taking his daughter off insulin. If he's that stupid, then he may not recognize the signs of DKA when it does hit -- brush it off as the flu -- and then she may die. It sends chills up and down my back when a child dies a totally unnecessary death because of parent stupidity. And Rick is right -- you can't cure stupidity, but it's a tragedy when it takes an innocent life!!