Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Why Be Different?

Yesterday I found this email in my inbox:

"...while at first I was encouraged that you'd found an outlet to talk about your son and his disease and your feelings, I was quickly unnerved by your post titled, "A Disjointed Post".

It didn't take much more reading until I realized that this was an ongoing theme. Do you have something against Type II diabetics? Do you really feel that they deserve a cure less than Type Is?? Because with very little reading through the lines, that is what you seem to be implying. You also seem to be saying that while your son, who I believe does deserve a cure and doesn't deserve this disease, didn't do anything to get this disease, that Type II diabetics are sick and it's their fault. And that they are all old people. As a nurse I wouldn't expect you to be so one-sided."

To tell you the truth I was pleased to see it. First, because the author chose to reveal who they are. And, secondly, because I thought it was nice to debate it in a private forum rather than in my blog comments. I love a debate, but only if those participating are going to be adults about it.

Here is my response:

"I did not in any way mean that those with Type 2 do not deserve a cure nor did I mean to imply that those with Type 2 caused it themselves. I am a nurse and probably about 80% of my patients are diabetic (all of them Type 2). So, I see what type 2 is like also. Also, you are right, not everyone with Type 2 is old, just like every one with Type 1 is not young. I am also a member of tudiabetes and see many Type 2s on there that are both old and young.

Actually, if you go to
this post you'll see that I said myself that those with Type 2 did not cause their disease. My grandmother and dad are both Type 2.

The point I was trying to get across is that Type 1 diabetes and Type 2 diabetes are NOT the same disease. I am assuming that you (or someone close to you) has Type 2 diabetes. So you probably know that Type 2 diabetes makes an individual unable to effectively use the insulin that their pancreas is creating, an insulin resistance if you will.

Type 1 is caused when an auto immune response in the body kills the beta cells in the pancreas (the cells that produce insulin). So, those with Type 1 don't produce any insulin at all. If my son went just one day without insulin injections he would die.

I'm not saying Type 1 is worse. I don't even want to debate that. But, you must understand that since my son has Type 1 that is where I will push for a cure. While a cure for Type 2 would be great, it would not help my son at all. He doesn't have insulin resistance. He doesn't make insulin at all. I feel that by lumping both types of diabetes together it diminishes the possibility of my son receiving a cure.

Secondly, when I said that Type 1 is not you grandmother's type of diabetes it was because I get comments from people all the time whose grandmother have Type 2 so they think they can tell me what my child can and cannot eat. While those with Type 2 may have to limit their carb intake to help control their sugars, those with Type 1 can pretty much eat whatever they want as long as they cover it with insulin.

Of course, I think people should keep their opinions to themselves about what anyone is eating. Would they tell a morbidly obese man in McDonalds that he shouldn't be eating that Big Mac and fries? Probably not. Why does someone feel the need to tell my 5 year old he's being bad when he eats certain things?

So, that is where I'm coming from. There was no ill will wished towards those with Type 2. As I said, my son has Type 1, so that is where I'm pushing for a cure. But, that doesn't mean I don't want those with Type 2 to be cured also. It's just that the cure is not going to come from the same place because they are caused by different things. To me it's like someone saying, " I donated to breast cancer research so I don't need to donate to leukemia research. " You see, they are the same, yet different.

Again, thank you for your comment. I think it is great that you took it upon yourself to email me. I wish more people would do that when they feel passionate about something."

I just wanted to post this because I realized that someone else could read my disjointed post and perceive the same thing. That is not what I want. I am not looking to push those with Type 2 to the side.

I do believe, however, that it is not helping either type by lumping the two together.

(The author of the above email replied with a very nice email this morning. He/she also gave me permission to use their email in this post.)


Bernard said...


Thanks for publishing this note and your response.

I think those of us (myself included) who are advocating for a cure for type 1 diabetes may seem to be against a cure for type 2 or cancer or something else.

That's not at all the case for me. I just think that enough money is spent on treating and managing type 1 that it makes economic (and emotional) sense to invest in a cure for this terrible disease.

I'm actually hoping that work on a cure would result in better treatment approaches for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Unknown said...

I have type 2 diabetes and I did not get that you were "against" type 2 diabetics so to speak. No one in my family has type 2 diabetes and while I am overweight and I do know that can be a cause of type 2 diabetes that did not cause my diabetes. Eli Lilly (ya i know awfully funny since the make insulin) developed a drug called Zyrpexa. While the drug was being researched it was discovered to cause type 2 diabetes. Eli Lilly DID NOT put this on any warning labels. Low and behold after being on Zyprexa for 2 months, I was diagnosed with diabetes. They tried the oral meds with me for about a year, but Metaformin was making very sick and I was winding up in the hospital with dehydration on a regular basis. Since going on insulin my hba1c's have been really good. I have gotten good control of my blood sugars and I am allowed to have whatever I want to eat or drink as long as I cover it with insulin. I rarely have a day where my blood sugar goes over 200 anymore. This just goes to show people how misconstrued ideas are about what causes diabetes. There are several other medications out there that they have also been linked to causing type 2 diabetes, so type 2 isn't always caused by lifestyle.

Penny Ratzlaff said...


I replied to my emailer this morning that I hoped that one day there would be a cure for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.


Thank you for your comment and sharing your story. I'm glad to hear that your sugars are doing well.

Chrissie in Belgium said...

I have noted so many, many times that when we write our blogs we are misunderstood. So great that you followed it up - otherwise the misunderstanding remains and fester and jumps out again in another form!

Anonymous said...

Dear Penny,

I don't think you should be apologizing for your feeling and frustrations towards those who think your son has type 2 or that he needs to be managed like a type 2. When he grows up, regardless of his weight status, people will assume he is a type 2 and the biases that exist now will be forced on him unless we can get people to know the difference. Type 2 is very different, and while people may try to say that having one type or the other are equal in the daily life or complications, they really are not. Type 1 is worse than type 2. I'll say that for you. The bottom line, the longer you have any form of diabetes - the shorter your lifespan and the more complications you face in late adulthood (variable based on management, of course). So for someone to say that getting diagnosed at 26 is just as evil as getting diagnosed at 7 is just crap - and you shouldn't be afraid to feel that way. Let the type 2's feel offended. They don't have type 1.