Parents of kids with Type 1 diabetes want two things. First and foremost is a cure for the disease. Second, is understanding. We don’t expect our friends and family to completely understand it. Heck, we didn’t until it was in our lives. If we could get everyone to understand that there is a huge difference between Type 1, and Type 2, we’d be happy. I read a story once, the title was: “Type 1 in a Type 2 World.” OMG, that is so true, it’s brilliant.
I’ve written about this before, because I want to educate people and give them knowledge about a disease that effects a lot of people worldwide, it’s one thing I can do to hopefully make a difference. Speaking of differences, here are the differences between type 1 and type 2 Diabetes:
Type 1 diabetes, which used to be called juvenile diabetes because it is more often diagnosed in children and young adults, occurs when the body’s immune system attacks the cells of the pancreas that make insulin. People with type 1 must take insulin therapy to survive.
Type 2 diabetes: the pancreas still makes insulin, but the body cannot use it properly. The pancreas responds by making more, until it eventually loses its ability to generate the hormone. People with type 2 may eventually have to take insulin, but early on in the disease, they usually take oral medications only and can sometimes control it with diet and other lifestyle changes alone. This is where the misconceptions begin.
Because so much is stressed about type 2 diabetes being able to be controlled by diet and exercise, every-time my child eats a donut, he gets a look from someone, and sometimes people even say things like: “should you be eating that?” Don’t even get me started!!
There is a facebook page called “Rename Type 1 Diabetes” to try and find a name for the disease that makes sense, and so it’s not related to Type 2.
You might wonder why it’s important to us that people understand the difference between these two diseases. They both affect the pancreas and insulin production so what’s the big deal?
Let me tell you that to be looked down on, because someone thinks that you “brought on” a disease because of your unhealthy lifestyle, is devastating to a child. And heaven forbid the child is overweight, which can be the case when you are dosing your child’s low blood sugar with a carb filled juice box, or multiple glucose tablets that have 4 grams of carbohydrates each. Just imagine what it is like for the parents, when you tell someone your child has type 1 diabetes and their response is “oh, he doesn’t look overweight, did he eat to much sugar?” There are so many assumptions, based on lack of knowledge.
Even Type 2 Diabetes is scrutinized for the wrong reasons sometimes. A large number of people with type 2 diabetes have it because of genetics, not because of poor lifestyle choices. We should just be compassionate about anyone with any disease, regardless of how they got it.
Please don’t ever say the following thing to a parent of a child with type 1 diabetes: I have heard these over the years, by many bloggers, or on You tube, along with some funny responses:
“I saw you testing your son’s blood sugar, does he have diabetes?” (Yes) “But he is so young, and skinny, is it the bad kind?” (I didn’t know there was a good kind of diabetes)
“I guess he shouldn’t have had so much juice as a baby.” (Actually I poured straight sugar down his throat, for the fun of it)
“My aunt has the bad kind of diabetes, she lost her leg and eye site to the disease.” (Thanks for sharing in front of my child that has type 1 diabetes)
“I saw him eating a cookie, should he be eating that?” (He can eat anything he wants except two things, poison and any other food made with poison)
“Do you have to give him shots?” I could never do that to my child.” (Oh yes, I guess it’s better that your going to let your child die a slow, painful death)
“It’s a good thing he got it when he was young, they won’t know any other life.” (Like he can’t see that everyone else around him can eat without pricking their fingers, counting every carb, or taking a shot with every meal)
“I heard that there is a bark on some tree in Africa that can cure diabetes, have you looked into that?” (Like stupidity, there is no cure for type 1 diabetes)
“You are lucky, at least it’s not cancer!!” (Or the stupids, there is no cure for that)
“Since he can’t have cake, should I set up a tray of vegetables for him at the party?” (No, he can eat cake, as long as it’s not made with poison)
“My mom’s cat had diabetes, it broke her heart to give it a shot, he went blind right before he died.” (Just shut up)
These are just a few of the things that people really say to us, now you understand why it’s so important for us to get the correct information out to everyone.
Regarding the cancer statement, a couple of months ago I ran into a friend in the grocery store, it just happened to be the day Joey was released from the hospital, he spent the night after having some complications from type 1 diabetes. Anyway, I asked her if she had heard how a young man from our community was doing after being diagnosed with cancer. She told me that he had a long road ahead of him, with chemo and eventually surgery to remove the tumor. I told her that I would continue to pray for the family, her response was: “yes, this puts your disease into perspective doesn’t it!? Now, had I not just been released with Joey, having gotten little to no sleep, I probably would have ripped her head into a lot of little pieces. BUT, I was to exhausted to even acknowledge her ignorance. All I could think of was Joey laying in the hospital plugged into IV’s, going into DKA, and him asking me: “mom, am I going to die?”
Please, if you know someone with type 1 diabetes in their lives, give them a big hug, otherwise you might just end up on a “Things Not To Say To Someone With Type 1 Diabetes!” list.