A few months ago I read an interesting article by a woman who is Type One diabetic. She talked about the mis-understandings people have about her illness, how much people don’t understand.
What people do not understand is that Type One develops when a person is young and will never go away. What people don’t understand is how she can manage her diet and still eat most of what she wants. What people don’t understand is that medication alone will not control her illness, she must take insulin. There are no cures by eating Iceberg Lettuce or Okra or Cinnamon pills.
And one of the things she gets pissed about is having her chronic illness confused with Type Two diabetes. Because, after all, people with Type Two are just lazy. If they ate right and exercised, they wouldn’t have this illness anymore.
Oh, I wish that was true.
Since last August the monster I was always terrified of reared its ugly head. My blood glucose numbers were at high levels, enough that my doctor called me and told me to pick up my new medication and start taking it immediately. My A1C was a 12. I knew I was tired but I also work a lot along with a bunch of volunteering.
The diagnosis came after I worked to lose weight and change my diet. I exercised and stopped eating white bread, white sugar, white rice. I saw my belly get smaller and I thought I had made headway. I managed to lose 40+ pounds and thought I was safe.
At first I was able to get my A1C down to 7.3. I worked harder, walked more, gave up soda and flavored coffee. Instead of losing weight, as I had seen other friends do after their diagnosis, I gained weight especially in the tummy area. So I doubled down, made sure I did that mile walk minimum daily. I ate more salads and only dark chocolate. I don’t eat after 9 pm and drink a ton of water. And my morning numbers are still high.
So much for dieting and exercise.
The sad fact is that Type Two diabetes is hereditary. Just being in certain ethnic groups puts you at risk, such as African, Asian, Native American, Latino, or Pacific Islander ancestry. If your parent is Type Two, there is a 10-15% chance their child will have it. Both of my parents, one grandparent from each side, and at least one great-grandparent on each side had it. Worse yet, I was gestational diabetic with almost all of my pregnancies. My last child weighed ten pounds.
Lately, I have felt as if I was a sitting duck and there was no avoiding this diagnosis.
The truth is, you don’t get Type Two without a genetic pre-deposition. My mother is a thin woman who walks regularly. She does not fit the profile while I do with the extra bit of weight and two desk jobs. We are both dealing with Type Two but she doesn’t have to take insulin. I do.
You can talk to me about alternative treatments because I am willing to listen. I might even be willing to try it. But don’t sit there telling me I am lazy and not willing to work the diet. Don’t sit there and tell me if I just work it, I will be cured.
It might be comforting in some weird way to think that Type One and Type Two are different beasts altogether. It’s like you want to have a pity party because your illness is worse. Sounds like the kind of fights that happen between autistic moms who tell Asperger moms their kids aren’t really autistic because their kid is functioning while a different kid will never be able to take care of themselves or talk or get out of bed.
At their essences, both forms of diabetes are the same. The body has too much glucose and the pancreas cannot do its job without supplemental assistance. I can’t just lose weight by exercising and working my diet to make it my Type Two diabetes go away. I have tried. And I really resent people who don’t get it, even fellow diabetics.
Now, if you will excuse me, I have to go to bed. Getting plenty of sleep is one way to control your sugar numbers, so I hear.