It’s not you, it’s me

Or maybe it’s neither of us.

Last week I saw a link to an article in the Chicago Tribune about diabetes. Basically, the point of the article was that Type 1 diabetics are “tired” of being linked to Type 2 diabetics and want a a new name for their disease. The title of the article even hinted at a “diabetes civil war” – that we are fighting against ourselves.
Well, you can count me as one person that is NOT in that fight. Back in June at the Roche Social Media Summit, that is the very point that I brought up in front of the ADA. Manny had asked them why they were not more involved with World Diabetes Day, to which I responded with a tweet “I hate the type 1/type 2 fight. No other disease fights with itself.”

Do I get frustrated that most (if not all) the pictures from JDRF, fundraising for a cure, are pictures of little kids? Yes, but I also realize that their adorable little faces are better at raising money than I am. Do I get frustrated that when the news does a story about diabetes they don’t differentiate between the two types and they always show pictures of overweight adults (the stock footage where the people have no heads)? Well, of course.

My frustration is different than wanting to take part in a “civil war” though. What is the complaint about Type 1 diabetics being mistaken for a Type 2 diabetic? That we don’t want to be “blamed” for something that we did not cause? Well, guess what? The “other side” did not “cause” their diabetes either. If just being overweight was enough, every obese person would have diabetes. You have to have the perfect storm of genetic and environmental factors to have either “type” of diabetes.
One of the biggest complaints that people in the online diabetes community make is that we are always educating the misinformed and that people don’t know the truth about diabetes. Well, then instead of fighting and blaming the other side, let’s find those truths that we can agree on and have that be our message. There has to be enough that we have in common that we can move forward with those thoughts. What about the thousands and thousands of people without adequate medical insurance? What about the fact that there is not enough nutritional information out there? Doesn’t everyone want to know more about what is going into the food we are eating? That has to be something we can agree on.
If we insist on make this a civil war, let’s look to the thought of those who lived through America’s Civil War to see if they have any wisdom for this battle.
“It’s all a damned mess! And our two armies ain’t nothing but howling mobs!” ~A captured Confederate soldier

“I hate newspapermen. They come into camp and pick up their camp rumors and print them as facts. I regard them as spies, which, in truth, they are. If I killed them all there would be news from Hell before breakfast.” ~William Tecumseh Sherman
“America has no north, no south, no east, no west. The sun rises over the hills and sets over the mountains, the compass just points up and down, and we can laugh now at the absurd notion of there being a north and a south. We are one and undivided.” ~Sam Watkins


  • Great post, Sara. I read with interest and disdain that same Chicago Trib story that you did, and didn’t much care for it. While it did tap into that underlying resentment and feeling that many of us Type 1s do feel to some degree, it was incredibly overblown and went to a place that I think does more harm than good. We must work together as a D-Community to highlight the differences and make sure the public understands. We can do that in a way that doesn’t make this a “civil war,” but in a way that unites us and brings the attention that’s needed to whatever style of diabetes we may be talking about. I’m already planning a blog on this later in the week, too! Thanks for sharing your thoughts here and re-iterating the great point you made in Orlando!

  • I’ll never forget when you said that. It rang so darn true. It pains me so. There should be no dispute, no fight, no discussion. Diabetes sucks.

    There are more important issues regarding Diabetes than a name. Getting supplies (medication etc) to those that Need it is more important, as you point out. We live with the disease day in and day out, no break, we are living Now so let’s help that to continue!

  • hmmm.i seen that also.

    its more than that though sara.i feel that type 1 s are lost and are trying to be swallowed up.and for me and a ton of others it is/was a childhood condition.i am and forever will be a juvenile diabetic.

    i dont think its about blame its more about about losing what makes us least for me.

    i dont go along with the idea that food is evil.that insulin is a last resort that carbs are my problem and i dont need to lose weight.

    how many type 1 s control with just diet and exercise?

    how many type 2 s not on meds have low lows?

    how many type 2 s spent basically their whole lives as a diabetic?

    we cant leave out the personal sides of this.i have many type 2 friends and i love them.and we know we are different from each other.

    im sorry but i cant partake in a lot of “clinical” discussions with t2 s because i am not a t2 and have no reference to say anything worth while.i used to to talk a lot about food but it is not worth it anymore because of the beat downs you have to go through with others not like me.if i say i love something i dont want to hear about 50 substitutes because someone else cant enjoy that food anymore.type 1 s really dont freely had out advice to type 2 s though it does happen but the reverse happens all the time.

    most type 2 proudly proclaim they are “diet and exercise controlled”.and they should be proud. but what are those 2 words always connected with?weight.

    and last but not least im tired of type 1 s taking the blame for all the nonsense going on in the doc.why cant we be us?the reality is we are different and the treatments offered are different.

    what needs to change is we need more respect understanding empathy sympathy and the will to let others lead their lives as they see fit without passing judgment.if someone is able to eat 180 carbs per meal i say “amen and pass the plate”.

    im so sorry but we cant simplify this.and its not enough to read a few blogs or news articles to see what is happening.the only way is to spend time in the posting world.

    i dont blame anyone for anything but whats mine is mine and i have “owned” it for 38 yrs.why should i want to give it up after all the work i have done.

  • Thanks, Sara. I love the analogy to the US Civil War, because it points to something I’ve been thinking about this weekend.

    Here’s the thing, folks: wars have casualties.

    When we allow anger or frustration to affect how we treat other people, or even speak intemperately about things that are close to the hearts of other people, we risk having people feel that they can no longer stay with us. Sure, leaving the community would be a choice: but if a person comes to us seeking support and gets anger instead, leaving is entirely reasonable.

    Media coverage and public perception do add frustration to what’s already a frustrating condition. Let’s be careful not to direct that frustration at people who didn’t cause it.

  • I’m not against type 2’s, nor do I blame anyone for supposedly “causing” their diabetes, or any other disease for that matter. I hate that a lot of people in our society want to blame the sufferer for the disease. I think it is a way of denying that something bad could ever happen to them, or that they cannot control everything. However, I do believe that T1 and T2 are vastly different conditions that more often than not require very different treatment plans and lifestyle adaptations. So I am a proponent of more distinct names for the two, without the blame for either.

  • I blame the media for the misperception, not type 2’s. I don’t think we should stop educated about the two types BUT we shouldn’t blame our type 2 family. It is not their fault. I wonder how many type 2’s get annoyed when people say, “Oh you have the easy kind,” or “you can just lose weight and cure yourself like Drew Carey.”

  • I thought that Chicago Tribune article was kinda awful.

    I fully agree that blaming people doesn’t help anything. But blaming the media doesn’t either because we control the media. If we stopped watching CBS news they’d go bananas and scramble to figure out why and work to make us watch again. Type 1 and Type 2 diabetics have it equally hard but, each should take responsibility for what they do have control over-and that just happens to be quite a lot.

    I don’t think that many people are saying that being overweight causes type 2 diabetes. I think there is just information out there stating that it increases the risk so naturally, this information floats around in hopes that people will take their risk down if they are able. We should just support each other to be a healthy weight and eat healthier, and exercise, instead of diminishing the power of these factors to make an impact. And again, definitely no judging. Just support and understanding.

    Who knows, maybe different names would help educate those about the differences about type 1 and 2 diabetes?

    Personally, I help type 2 diabetics I know by going on walks with them when they ask me to, and not saying anything about what they want to eat, and giving money towards their causes and celebrating their good A1c’s or health improvements. And I can say the exact same for fellow type 1 diabetics like me.

    We should just treat each other the same and together focus on diabetes education and supporting everyone’s health goals, no matter how big or small.

  • Thank you 🙂 …especially for those quotes from the American Civil War.

    I have practical concerns over a name change – ones that could impact cost of test strips and insulin due to being able to treat two differently named diseases – ones that could impact a cure as we see with cancer now, that sometimes one treatment for one type of cancer ends up being even better for another type. (You can see I don’t buy the “but there are so many types of cancer”.)

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