Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Diabetics in Denial

A friend of mine posted about the fact that people with Type 2 often asked him for help in how to improve their self-care, stating that they had trouble taking their medications, or managing their meal plan, or testing their blood sugar. He, being a Type 1 since childhood, was at a loss as to what to say to them, because he felt that it wasn't his place to recommend counseling, and he really couldn't address the problems of Type 2. So this is what I wrote as an answer:

I think the most important thing you can do is tell them you empathize with what they're going through. Even if you don't actually understand it, because you don't remember life before diabetes. They're being asked to make HUGE life changes, and it's SO hard I can't tell you. Because I was diagnosed in my early 40's, I DO remember life before diabetes, and I DO understand what an emotional struggle it is.

When I hear young T1s sneer at T2s because they think they have it easy, I know it's actually because they don't have a clue what the T2s are going through, and they are too young and callow to have any kind of empathy. But we older people are capable of understanding that they are struggling, even if we never had the exact same struggle. And validating their feelings is really the first step in helping them see the need for counseling, and for taking the steps they need to take in order to protect their health and their future.

Docs don't usually give them that validation, and neither does the general public; on the contrary, they devalue them and play the blame and shame game with them, and then wonder why they don't take care of themselves. Maybe because they've been made to feel so bad? Or because they start thinking it's hopeless?  We, as a society, are very cruel and thoughtless toward T2s and part of the struggle for everyone who makes it their goal to truly understand all types of diabetes should be to lift the shame and gather together under one umbrella for the support of everyone.


  1. Natalie. As a T2, thanks for this post. Did you know that the CDA has stated that testing for T2s is useless? T2s on fixed incomes in Ontario get 200 strips/year, on sulphs...400/year...on insulin...3,000/year.I'm sure however,we will continue to be blamed for a rising A1C. "Eat to the meter" ....gone! There are a few exceptions.

  2. An interesting and thought provoking post. I too became a T1 in my 40s, and my diet could best be described as a massive amount of carbs. Rice, pasta, bread, potatoes for every meal. I'm now a low-carber in order to keep my BG excursions down (which works!) but it wasn't that hard to switch.

    To the point of your post, I don't snicker at T2s - I think they are in a harder place than I am. The cravings so many T2s have is very real, and should not be waved away with 'willpower'. As if willpower could adjust an out-of-whack endocrine system. I don't have those cravings and that, combined with the necessity of testing pre- and post-mealtime makes it easier for me to keep my A1C low (6.0 - 5.9 - 6.1)

    I don't know if I could face the T2 biology as easily as the T1.

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