November: Diabetes Awareness Month

Someone wrote a blog on one of the diabetes sites asking what we were going to do to bring awareness to diabetes.  I have been thinking about this and although I write a blog, I still kept asking myself, “What can I do?”

It is surprising to me how many people really don’t understand diabetes.  Even people that have diabetes don’t understand the different types.  Recently, David Edelman wrote a blog on Diabetes Daily asking which type was worse.  It really surprised me some of the comments spewing back and forth which type was worse.

This summer, I was on a committee where I live to help raise money to build a playground for the kids.  One of the women there said that she was diabetic.  I asked her which type she was and she said that she did not know that there were different types. By asking her how she treated it, I was able to come to the conclusion that she was a Type 2.  At another meeting we had, she made the comment that her diabetes was good.  I guess I am the bad diabetic because I take insulin and have a pump!  That conversation came up because she was talking about having lap-band surgery to cure her diabetes.  Since she said hers was good, I thought I would ask her what her A1c was so I did.  The maintenance guy here happened to be in the room when I asked that question and he started to laugh and said she didn’t even know what an A1c was.  I asked him if he was diabetic and he said that he was pre-diabetic.  She then said that she knew what an A1c was but she did not know what hers was.

I have to confess that prior to talking to people online on message boards, I really did not know a lot about Type 2 diabetes.  For that matter, I never heard of a Type 1.5 before either!  I even had some of the same stereotypical thoughts that other people had.  There was a nurse that worked at a doctor’s office that I went to and when she told me that she was diabetic, I “assumed” she was Type 1 because she was skinny.  I was wrong.  She was Type 2.  There are a lot of younger, skinny people that exercise regularly that get Type 2.  There are also Type 1s that are overweight.  You should not assume what type someone is based on their weight.  I did not understand about insulin resistance and what is one unit of insulin for me is probably ten units of insulin for a Type 2.  I did not know about the battles that they have to go thru to try and get test strips from doctors and insurance companies.  I did not know about all the different things, including genetics, which can cause Type 2 diabetes.  As I said, I did not know a lot!

There was a rather heated discussion on Saturday evening on the ADA boards.  The ADA has separate boards for Type 1 and Type 2 and there has been a lot of arguing between the two types in the past.  Lizzy from the Type 2 boards said something that caused a little light to go off and I decided what can I do to bring awareness to diabetes.  About a year or so ago, the ADA changed the format of their message boards and Lizzy commented that since we have the new format, there is more crossover between the boards and people seem to understand each other more.  I also post on TuDiabetes and they also have separate boards, but a list of the most recent posts regardless of which board appears on their main page.  There is more interaction between the two types and there does not seem to be as much bickering there. And people there really do seem to have more of an understanding of the various types of diabetes, not just their own.

If there is so much of a lack of understanding between the two types of those that actually have diabetes, how can we expect the general public to get it?  So my idea to promote diabetes awareness is for us to learn more about the “other” type.  If you are Type 1, spend some time during the month of November reading Type 2 message boards.  If you are Type 2, spend some time reading the Type 1 boards.  You don’t have to participate if you don’t want to but at least just read and get an understanding of what the other type is all about.  You just might learn something!
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