I'm in the check out lane at the grocery store (actually without kids!) and the cashier and I start talking. The conversation turns to my kids and eventually I remember saying something about Love Bug and her diabetes. ( I can't remember the entire conversation because I have focused on the negative part too much) Then I hear (what I have now heard too many times) how did you know she had diabetes? Is she fat? ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? You think my four year old is FAT?
My other favorite to hear when people find out my daughter has Type 1 diabetes is "So, she can't have any sugar?" No, not a single drop. (sarcasm there) I also like (sarcasm intended here too) "At least she will outgrow it". Grow out of it??? I can only dream.
Why do people always assume when you say Diabetes, they think of fat, unhealthy, over-weight, and too many sweets? Yes these can be causes of Type 2 but have nothing to do with Type 1. I know there are people out there, when they first hear I have a child with Diabetes that assume I'm a bad mother and feed my kids too many sweets. I'm guessing it's from all the media misconceptions out there. They (the media) put Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes under the same Diabetes umbrella. It is so frustrating that people just don't get the difference between the two diseases!
I personally believe that there should be two different names for the two different diseases. Why do we have to call it diabetes? Just because of the few similarities there between Type 1 and Type 2? Or can we, at the very least, have a mandate that the media (and people in general) must distinguish between the two? Of course there would still be the few that never would distinguish so that would probably be pointless.
Now, I don't want everyone thinking that I am insensitive to people with Type 2. I'm not. I have family members and know a lot of people who have (suffer with) Type 2. I just wish there was some way to distinguish between them better.
For those of you who don't know, here are the differences between Type 1 and Type 2:
"Type 1 Diabetes is sometimes called insulin-dependent diabetes or juvenile diabetes. With type 1 diabetes, a person's pancreas either produces very little insulin or none at all. So people with this type of diabetes must inject or pump insulin daily to make up for what the body can't do. Knowing just how much insulin the body needs at a particular time is very, very tricky. For this reason, the blood sugar of a person with type 1 diabetes can be either too high or too low a lot of the time.
Type 1 diabetes is a type of AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE. This means that the body's system for attacking and fighting off infections, called its immune system, is attacking a part of the body itself. In type 1 diabetes, the immune system attacks certain cells in the pancreas called beta cells. If you guessed that these beta cells are the ones that produce insulin, you're absolutely right!
About 5 to 10 percent of people who are diagnosed with diabetes have type 1 diabetes. Being extremely thirsty or hungry over a long period of time, having to urinate more often than usual, losing a lot of weight without trying to, having blurry vision, and being extremely tired over a long period of time may all be symptoms of type 1 diabetes.
Type 2 Diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. In this type of diabetes, the pancreas still produces insulin, but it does not produce enough or it has trouble using it. Type 2 diabetes usually develops in adults over 35 years old, and especially in those who are overweight.
Type 2 diabetes is generally connected to with older age, obesity (being overweight), a history of diabetes in the family, having had gestational diabetes (see below), and lack of physical exercise. It also seems to be tied to race or ethnicity.
About 90 to 95 percent of people diagnosed with diabetes have type 2. The symptoms can include extreme tiredness, being unusually hungry or thirsty, losing weight suddenly, urinating more often than normal, blurry vision, and sores or infections that take a long time to heal. These symptoms can come on gradually, or there may not be any symptoms at all. Usually, type 2 diabetes can be controlled by losing weight, improving nutrition and increasing exercising. But many people may need to take medication by mouth or inject or pump insulin (or sometimes both) to control the disease."
I also wish that influential people; such as Oprah; would take just as much time discussing Type 1 Diabetes and what people have to deal with on a daily basis as she does dedicating a entire show to Type 2 Diabetes. I love it when I see people actually talking about what life is like with Type 1 and the struggles that go with it. One of my favorite interviews to date is one with Jets Owner Woody Johnson and Dr. Aaron Kowalski on living with and treating diabetes. It is an eye opening interview. The article on Diabetes Myths and Misconceptions is a good resource too.
Maybe someday all this won't be so confusing anymore. Until then this is why education is so important, to get people in the know. Then people like me will stop getting so frustrated!